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March 1, 2012 / News / Meadows of Shame

Prospect Park bird habitat set ablaze

Brooklyn Daily

A group of teens set a patch of Prospect Park’s precious bird habitat on fire on Tuesday, according to witnesses and parks officials.

Rocky Point — an overgrown and hilly stretch of woodland near the lake just east of Long Meadow — burst into flames at 2:45 pm, according to the park advocacy blog A Walk in the Park.

Three teenagers ran away from the scene as flames spread up the hillside, said Rob Jett, a bird-watcher who claims he spotted the fire and the kids.

“I heard them laughing and running down the path towards the Nethermead Meadow,” he told the blog. “I [saw] smoke coming up from where they had just been.”

Park officials and cops then doused the flame using extinguishers and shovels — but the close call still worries park-goers, who say the gated-off area has for years been a meet-up point for debauchery.

Former Prospect Park Alliance President Tupper Thomas acknowledged the site has long been a problem in e-mails obtained by The Brooklyn Paper.

“Large drinking parties [have] been happening at night,” she wrote to a concerned park-goer in 2008. “Several groups were stopped and taken in for questioning.”

The blaze is yet another sign that Brooklyn’s backyard should be better maintained and patrolled by the city, park watchdogs say.

“People do dumb things because there’s nobody up there. We need more park rangers and better enforcement,” said Geoffrey Croft of New York City Park Advocates. “There’s a lack of funds and accountability — this isn’t happening in Central Park.”

Park spokesman Paul Nelson had no information about arrests or whether enforcement will increase nearby.

Park watchdog Anne-Katrin Titze says the blaze is evidence that policing must increase.

“It is another indication of the need for enforcement in the park daily,” she said.

Reach reporter Natalie O'Neill at noneill@cnglocal.com or by calling her at (718) 260-4505.

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