Just in time for summer and the USDA's National Grilling Month, a petition to ban barbecue-style grills in Prospect Park is making the rounds online. And shockingly, it was sparked by a Park Slope resident.
The petition, started by Park Slope resident Daz Ryan, currently has an overwhelming 44 digital signatures. "Make Prospect Park Toxic Free by 2015" declares that numerous carcinogens found in charcoal smoke are a health risk to all park users and nearby residents. It calls for both Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams and Mayor de Blasio to revisit the rules on grilling in the park and consider "moving designated areas away from residential areas, away from the parkside and away from the ball field and playgrounds, or even perhaps banning barbecuing entirely!"
Ryan told the Daily News that dangerous grill smoke regularly wafts into her 14th Street home and has only gotten worse in recent years. "When it happens I'm forced to close all of my windows," Ryan said.
Currently, the city's Parks Department lists seven designated grilling areas in Prospect Park: the north area of Long Meadow, the area near Prospect Park South West and 10th Avenue, the area near Vanderbuilt Street and Prospect Park South West, a space north of the Picnic House, the Grecian Shelter area, space south of Wollman Rink, and both sides of the bandshell.
The News also spoke to Randi Lass, a 47-year-old park clean-up volunteer, who said that the smoke, charcoal runoff, and general litter left behind by cook-outs frequently winds up in the park's lake, "threatening all living things that require the lake for sustenance."
For many, though, grilling in Prospect Park is not only a recreational tradition but a matter of circumstance in a part of Brooklyn where backyards are impossible to afford. "Not everybody has the privilege of having a backyard," Laurence Checler said as he grilled in the park this week.
Citing an uptick in neighborhood population, Ryan's petition claims, "What may have been good policy in the past may no longer be good policy today or for the future...There is just TOO MUCH SMOKE!" At press time, the petition's chance of success seems shrouded in scrumptious/toxic smoke, so we recommend getting your grill on while the getting's good.