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Residents of southern Canarsie were unwilling witnesses to a rip−roaring Fourth of July at their local recreational areas.
Both Canarsie Pier and Canarsie Park were packed to the gills with barbecuers and party−goers, said Neal Duncan, the president of the United Canarsie South Civic Association (UCSCA).
Duncan told this paper that those living near the two areas were over−run on Independence Day by the number of people, some of whom blasted music from huge speakers set out in the open air. Those who came to the neighborhood took up all the legal parking spots and left double−parked vehicles in the street, and “a tremendous amount of garbage” behind them, Duncan reported.
“People really took advantage of the atmosphere and the cooler temperatures,” Duncan noted. “It was definitely overwhelming for the community. A lot of people complained about the crowds.”
Indeed, Duncan said, residents returning home during the day had trouble finding parking spots. And, he added, there was, “A tremendous amount of garbage left.”
At points, the traffic near the pier was so bad, Duncan said, that, “They had the police there to help people cross the street. There was so much traffic, so many cars, so much double−parking.”
Grills were going merrily all around the park, Duncan added, even though, “You’re not supposed to barbecue.”
Brian Feeney, a spokesperson for the Gateway National Recreation Area, a division of the National Park Service (NPS) which oversees Canarsie Pier, said that plans were made beforehand to deal with the expected huge crowd. “It’s one of the biggest days of the year for us,” he stressed. “We had extra maintenance staff on to make sure the pier was clean, the bathrooms were clean and everything was good when we opened the next morning.”
Gateway staffers try to make sure that barbecuing in the vicinity of the pier is only done at the permanent grills installed there, Feeney added. “It’s a safety issue,” he explained. “With portable grills, coals get dumped on the ground and people can get burned, so we do the very best we can to enforce the rule.”
Indeed, Feeney said, people trying to use portable grills was “the biggest issue” at the pier on the Fourth. “Between 8:30 and 9:30 a.m., we swept the area and told everyone who had their own grills to get rid of them,” Feeney reported. “We enforced our policy and people complied, so it worked out fine.”
As for Canarsie Park, Phil Abramson, a spokesperson for the city’s Department of Parks & Recreation, said that while barbecuing is prohibited in the park, the agency “recognizes” that it occurs, and is “a problem that recurs every year, especially on summer weekends.” But, he noted, like amplified sound (which is only allowed with a permit), the regulation “is not easy to enforce.
“We have signage at the park entrances,” Abramson went on, “and we do get inquiries from the public. We have barbecue areas in certain parks, so we steer people in that direction. Education is the best way to do it.”
©2009 Community Newspaper Group
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