Hazardous Pesticide Spraying in Prospect Park Tonight

Prospect Park Lady Bug - Dead Soon?

After first saying that pesticide spraying would not occur in Prospect Park because of the Celebrate Brooklyn concerts – something that raised a few eyebrows (either something is urgent, or it is not) – the New York City Department of Health backtracked and said pesticide spraying will occur tonight after midnight in the Park.

Prospect Park is a 585 acre park with a 60 acre lake. There are dragonflies and bats — both natural predators of the mosquito, as well as butterflies, ladybugs, bees — all are killed by the pesticide spraying. In addition, people walking through the park tomorrow morning will be breathing in fresh pesticide spray which has known and detrimental health effects. People will be walking their dogs which are close to the ground and they will breathe in and walk through the harmful pyrethroid pesticide, Anvil 10+10.

A few years ago, I flyered Prospect park-goers with literature about the health effects of the pesticides and a woman stopped to tell me, that, after walking through the park the morning after it had been sprayed, she encountered numerous lady bugs on the ground dying.

This is our eco-system — we are charged with protecting it; not killing it.

You have a greater chance of being hit by lightning than getting the West Nile virus. If someone did get West Nile, typically, they would not know it or might experience a slight cold.

The city is also spraying other sections of Brooklyn and Queens. Originally the spraying was to take place Wednesday, August 3rd but was delayed due to rain.

See further information from the No Spray Coalition, an organization I work with —

NEW YORK CITY MUST STOP SPRAYING TOXIC PESTICIDES IMMEDIATELY

The City has announced it will spray dangerous pesticides in crowded residential areas in Brooklyn and Queens on Thursday, August 4th, 2011.

The No Spray Coalition is appalled by Mayor Bloomberg’s and the City’s Department of Health decision to renew the mass-spraying — no legitimate reasons given.

We also condemn the New York City government’s advice to residents and visitors that they personally use insect repellants containing DEET on themselves and their children. DEET is especially dangerous for children and should NEVER be used; it is associated with numerous infant deaths. The City knows this; we negotiated an agreement with the City last year that they wouldn’t recommend DEET.

Furthermore, this year’s spray of choice — Anvil 10+10 — is listed in Local Law 37 (2005 update, see page 1, paragraph 4, discussion of table 2) that states that for piperonyl butoxide and MGK-264 contained as synergists in Anvil 10 + 10, that:

both of these chemicals are classified as possible human carcinogens by the EPA Office of Pesticide Programs. Only 94 products contain pyrethrins without other carcinogen ingredients. Therefore, most products containing pyrethrins continue to be prohibited under LL37 even if the reference to the EPA list was updated.

Local Law 37 prohibits the use of pesticides by NYC in public places if it contains PBO and/or MGK-264. Why are they violating their own law?

The No Spray Coalition is also deeply troubled not only by NYC’s reckless spraying of Anvil 10 + 10 to kill mosquitoes, but for the City’s very short notice — around 24 hours, that’s it!

“After years of litigation to stop this reckless spraying of pesticides which has contributed to skyrocketing increases in cancer and asthma, and now the collapse of bee colonies in the New York area, I am outraged that the Bloomberg Administration is renewing its mindless criminal poisoning of the people and environment of our City,” said Howard Brandstein, coordinator of SOS-FOOD, NY State Against Genetic Engineering, and a plaintiff in a federal lawsuit brought seven years ago by the No Spray Coalition and other organizations against Rudolph Giuliani and the New York City government.

That lawsuit ended in April 2007, when NYC signed a settlement agreement acknowledging, among other stipulations, that pesticides:
– may remain in the environment beyond their intended purpose
– cause adverse health effects
– kill mosquitoes’ natural predators (such as dragonflies)
– increase mosquitoes’ resistance to the sprays, and
– are not presently approved for direct application to waterways.

The Department of Health contravenes that settlement by now stating that there are no significant risks of adverse impact to human health associated with the proper use of this product. “That is simply a lie,” said No Spray Coalition coordinator Mitchel Cohen. In fact, the spraying puts many New York City residents and visitors at grave risk.

“These kind of ignorant and lying politicians and bureaucrats apparently have no problem destroying our health in order to ‘save’ us from the so-called West Nile virus,” Howard Brandstein added. “Clearly, the spraying jeopardizes a thousand times more people than the disease.”

The pesticide the City is spraying — “Anvil 10 + 10” — belongs to a class of adulticides known as pyrethroids, which are endocrine disruptors. They mimic hormones such as estrogen, and may cause breast cancer in women and drastically lower sperm counts in men. Pyrethroids have also been associated with prostate cancer, miscarriages and preterm delivery, asthma, toxicity to many vital organs including the nervous system, liver, kidneys and the gastro-intestinal tract, skin rashes, itching and blisters, and nausea and vomiting.

Anvil contains the cancer-causing chemical piperonyl butoxide, which the Environmental Protection Agency lists as a suspected carcinogen. It also contains Sumithrin — a synthetic toxin, made in the laboratory — as well as benzene-related chemicals (which the label calls “inert ingredients.”) (more…)

The Fate of Prospect Park’s Geese: Wildlife Advisory Public Meeting Wed. Nov. 17th – Speak Out

The Prospect Park Geese, as they once were

Former Prospect Park Geese Swimming - Prior to being Killed

The killing of somewhere between 250 and 400 geese at Prospect Park under the false pretense that they were impacting air “safety” led to vocalized outrage from park-goers and the nearby community. The geese were reportedly killed by gassing on park premises. The furor over this was directed towards the Prospect Park Alliance which recently announced it had formed a “Wildlife Management Advisory Committee.” This committee will be holding a public meeting Wednesday, November 17th to outline their plan and it is open for public comment.

It is important to note that it has never been stated previously that the geese in any way needed to be managed. It appears “managing the geese” was in the back of park management’s minds at the time of their gassing because it is now well known that Prospect Park is actually outside of the stated 7 mile designated range around NYC airports where geese were removed and killed (up to 1600 this year – 1200 last year – again, allegedly for “airline safety”).

The Prospect Park Alliance, the private entity in charge of the park, is now saying outright that the geese need to be “managed.” What that usually means is habitat modification (okay, I don’t have a problem to some degree with that), egg oiling (to prevent the eggs from hatching) and sometimes dogs to scare the geese away … yes, it’s better than killing, but is it (a) necessary and (b) the right thing to do?

This brings up other questions:

Is there some reason we can’t live with/share this 585 acre park with other species, even if there are some who consider them large in number?

Can we as a species learn to live with other species?

Who decides what is “too many”?

With Canada Geese being shoved out of the suburbs and outlying areas, where should they live, if not in a large public park where they are enjoyed by many?

Let’s protect our wildlife!

Note: There are now over 100 new geese at Prospect Park. Killing does not do anything – new geese fill the void. Geese are not, it must be noted, the main ‘culprit’ colliding with planes. Should we extinguish every bird in the sky? Clearly – although some would advocate for that – that is not possible. The onus is on the airline industry which is, at present, being protected by the USDA – the agency in charge of the mass killings – although NYC government gave them the go ahead.

Speak out at a public meeting to discuss next steps:

Wednesday, November 17th
6 p.m. at the Prospect Park Picnic House, enter at 3rd Street and Prospect Park West (inside the park) Brooklyn
phone # 718-965-8953

closest train: F/G to 9th Street 7th Avenue (exit at 8th avenue) or 2, 3 to Grand
Army Plaza

* Previously on WSP Blog:

The Killing of the Prospect Park Geese

Photos: Cathryn

Update on “The Vanishing City”; Documentary Screens Tonite, Saturday, September 25th at Williamsburg Film Festival

Tonight, Saturday, September 25th, catch the completed version of documentary “The Vanishing City” at the Williamsburg International Film Festival, aka WilliFest, at 10 p.m. at the Knitting Factory in Brooklyn. The Festival began Thursday, September 23rd and ends tomorrow, Sunday September 26th.

You can’t miss the dramatic changes in our New York City neighborhoods that have transpired at an escalated pace during the Bloomberg years, particularly throughout Manhattan but creeping into the other boroughs. The film attempts to answer “why?

The Daily News featured an excellent write-up on the film’s creators, filmmakers Jen Senko and Fiore DeRosa, yesterday:

“The more questions we asked, the film became more of journa-listic expose, a detective story,” says Senko.

“Essentially, we found that the city was using taxpayers’ money to more and more finance luxury housing, pushing out people and businesses that had been there for generations. These developers got huge subsidies and tax breaks, while taxes on small landlords and co-ops were going up nearly 40 percent.

“The result is changing the whole culture of Manhattan, and the film took on that focus.”

To view the excellent trailer for the film, and more on why the city is vanishing so quickly, take a look at this piece from Examiner.com:

The film points out that New York, while always changing, used to change in increments. In the 90s luxury development started ramping up and by the aughts exploded, slashing and burning its way through neighborhood after neighborhood. Luxury development has become the norm and entire neighborhoods have been re-zoned to not only allow it, but to preclude any other kind of development.

“The Vanishing City” just opened the Harlem International Film Festival on Thursday 9/23 and is receiving a lot of important and much deserved attention.

For tickets for tonight, or the rest of the festival, visit here.

Last Day for Freddy’s Bar, in path of Atlantic Yards, Brooklyn

A really nice note from the manager of Freddy’s Bar in Brooklyn about their closing … “Freddy’s is not merely a building on a street corner, it is a grand idea. Freddy’s Bar has been the culmination of everything I am and everything I’ve ever wanted this bar to be.” Freddy’s was in the way of the Atlantic Yards project, in the “footprint,” and would have been claimed by “eminent domain abuse” if they hadn’t agreed to go (they felt “condemnation” would have been worse).

They are throwing “a Victory Party on Friday, April 30th – the last day/night they will be open – “to celebrate the little guys who’ve been fighting a land-grabbing billionaire and the corrupt New York government agencies that he greatly influences.” They expect to open in a new location, most likely near Union Street and 4th Avenue in Brooklyn.

Prospect Park and the “sad legacy” of public-private “partnerships:” The Brooklyn Paper; Plus Washington Square

Tupper Thomas is the Park administrator at Brooklyn’s beautiful 585 acre Prospect Park but she’s really – at this point- considered the grand dame of the park and credited as being the person who “turned the park around.” She also ushered in, as The Brooklyn Paper points out in an editorial this week, the age of “public-private partnerships,” which current NYC Park Commissioner Adrian Benepe will never turn away from. Thankfully, there are independent media outlets like The Brooklyn Paper, a weekly which covers news in Brooklyn, that see through the rose colored haze of what these entities accomplish and can also take note of the inevitable downside.

Here’s an excerpt from this week’s editorial outlining the “sad legacy” of “public-private partnerships”:

The Brooklyn Paper
Editorial: Tupper Thomas’s sad legacy

April 14, 2010

Yes, when Thomas took over day to day oversight of the park in the 1980s, the place was a shambles, a victim, like so many things in those days, of municipal neglect. There was a Parks Department with a mandate to run the city’s open space, of course, but that agency failed.

Out of that failure came the Faustian bargain offered by the Tupper Thomases of the world: put our struggling public spaces under quasi-public control, set aside some of the normal rules, raise private money from rich people, and we’ll make sure wealthy neighborhoods have a suitable backyard.

Yes, Thomas was indefatigable and seemingly incorruptible. And she was well liked by the very people who should have been doing the job better in the first place. Those personal relationships gave Thomas a level of control that should have simply remained in the hands of officials and politicians who are, at least on paper, accountable to the voters, not their donors.

That’s why we have traditionally been leery of such public-private partnerships. If the city would just do its job, our parks would not need people like Tupper Thomas. Indeed, there would also be no need for business improvement districts or agencies like the Brooklyn Bridge Park Development Corporation, which are motivated by economic expansion for condo developers, not open-space construction for the public.

At Washington Square, private interests also played a role in the current redesign of this historic park, whether publicly or behind-the-scenes:

— the Bloomberg Administration, NYU, the local Business Improvement District (the warmly named “Village Alliance“), some Community Board 2 Members who manipulated the process, The Tisch Family (donated $2.5 million towards moving, aligning, and renovating the Fountain), and who knows who else all worked to overhaul the old Washington Square Park into the type of park they wanted, catering to a certain type of person they wanted in it.

These people and entities proclaimed publicly to appreciate its free spirited past while in essence obliterating it. This park they strived for (and many would argue attained) is one that would inflate already high real estate values surrounding the park, hopefully improve the “character” of 8th Street for the BID, and give NYU further leeway to take over the Village, and, of course, to continue to consider Washington Square the University “campus.”

It remains to be seen if a private Conservancy (the model now that is used to privately oversee some city parks) — with NYU and the BID having significant influence — will take over Washington Square Park.

Michael Jackson “Birthday Party” Prospect Park Saturday, August 29th

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It was exciting and fun to see Prospect Park used for something very different on Saturday as filmmaker and director Spike Lee presented an event for people to come together to celebrate what would have been Michael Jackson’s 51st birthday. Spike Lee originally intended to utilize Fort Greene Park but there was concern that, due to the anticipated size of the crowd, that venue would not be appropriate.  It was then moved to the much larger Nethermead section of Prospect Park.

I have worked many music events, so, when I attend them, I do notice where I think things could be improved.  And perhaps for many in the crowd, it was more than fine to just have a place to celebrate the music and come together.  That being said, I will mention the areas I felt could have been handled differently for a more cohesive, energetic event.

The event was mostly music programmed by a DJ accompanied by images on a video screen, primarily words such as song titles (“I’ll be There,” “Thriller,” “Forever Michael,” “Hey Brooklyn!  Make some Noize!” etc.) and audience shots. The screen needed to be larger and the music should have been piped in from at least one other location other than the front of the staged area — that would have certainly raised the energy level in the crowd.  I mean… they wanted people to dance, right? (Or maybe not.  Maybe it was purposefully kept low key.)  And, when they said there would be “music and videos,” most people thought that meant Michael Jackson videos but apparently not.

The momentum of the event would have benefitted from actual video – or even a picture? – of Michael Jackson. And I understand the need for crowd control measures but the splitting up of the crowd via metal barricades definitely diminished the spontaneity of being at an event in a large public park. I spoke to a few people there but I don’t know what the overall consensus was (if there was one). The event was held from 12-5 p.m. on Saturday, August 29th in the Nethermead section of Brooklyn’s Prospect Park.  Still, it was a unique idea. People were very aware of it and turned out in large numbers (I don’t have a good sense of how many at this moment – the New York Times “blog” article I read didn’t get into numbers).  And perhaps it will lead to other unique events being presented in our public parks.  Except, maybe those events, while paying attention to “crowd control,” will also leave room for a bit more spontaneity.

****************************************************************

Photos: Cat

Brooklyn’s Fort Greene Park — Home to Two Stanford White-designed structures

I went by Fort Greene Park in Brooklyn over the weekend. The Urban Park Rangers in the Fort Greene Park Visitors Center told me a bit of the park’s history. They informed me that Stanford White, principal of McKim, Mead & White (noted NYC architects in the early 20th century) and renowned architect of the Washington Square Park Arch (and Judson Church, among others), was also the designer of the park’s Prison Ship Martyrs Monument (pictured) and the Visitor Center/Rest Rooms, a building the American Institute of Architecture apparently refers to as “the most elegant outhouse in the world.”

Fort Greene Park is quite a treasure and a well-utilized park. Nothing too bohemian or out of the ordinary happens there but it has its purpose as a place you go to just … be. (Or play basketball or tennis!) It’s pure park vs. a more “public space” like Washington Square where things … happen in public. (No performances or protest appear to occur regularly at Fort Greene Park.) And while Washington Square Park is just (under) 10 acres, Fort Greene Park is a bit over 30.

The only unfortunate thing about Fort Greene Park is that it appears entirely ruled by the private Fort Greene Conservancy, to the point where you’d (almost) never know it was part of the New York City Park System!

Some background on the Park from the Parks Department: During the battle of Long Island, in the late 1700’s, “the British held thousands of captives on prison ships anchored in the East River. Over 11,500 men and women died of overcrowding, contaminated water, starvation, and disease aboard the ships, and their bodies were hastily buried along the shore. These brave patriots represented all thirteen colonies and at least thirteen different nationalities. In 1808 the remains of the prison ship martyrs were buried in a tomb on Jackson Street (now Hudson Avenue), near the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

The Brooklyn fort was renamed for General [Nathanael] Greene and rebuilt for the War of 1812. When the threat of war passed, locals enjoyed visiting the grounds of the old fort for recreation and relaxation. The City of Brooklyn designated the site for use as a public park in 1845, and [Brooklyn Daily Eagle] newspaper editor Walt Whitman rallied popular support for the project. In 1847 the legislature approved an act to secure land for Washington Park on the site of the old fort.”

The Monument for the prison ship martyrs (there is a crypt underneath with their bodies), erected in 1908, was the last building Stanford White designed. He did not live to see it built. He was shot to death in 1906 by his (ex) young mistresses’ husband on the roof of Madison Square Garden, a building he also designed (a previous version, not the one standing now).

Fort Greene Park was first named Washington Park; the original master plan was designed by Frederick Olmsted and Calvert Vaux (architects behind Central Park and Prospect Park among many notable works) in 1864.

Photos: Cat

Turtle Crossing, Prospect Park

Turtle crossing, Prospect Park

Turtle crossing, Prospect Park

Walking in Prospect Park in Brooklyn this morning, I noticed a turtle crossing a wide road that winds through the Park. I wasn’t ready to get that picture but captured this as he (or she) made his way back to the safety of the water! He was scampering along. (The road he crossed is to the left; the turtle is on the sidewalk at this point, and the lake – his destination – is to the right.)

On his way to a Fourth of July picnic perhaps?

Event This Weekend: Renegade Craft Fair – McCarren Park, Brooklyn

McCarren Park in the Spring

It’s dubbed the Renegade Craft Fair and the items displayed must express some kind of “renegade” i.e., D.I.Y. (do it yourself) and contemporary, spirit. This is the fourth year for the Fair in Brooklyn which has its roots in Chicago and also occurs in San Francisco. There are more than 200 vendors, displaying DIY knitting, jewelry, sewn items, paper goods, silkscreening, zines, reconstructed clothing, and more.

It will occur this weekend Saturday, June 14th and Sunday, June 15th, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., McCarren Park Pool, Lorimer Street, between Driggs Avenue and Bayard Street, Greenpoint, Brooklyn. It’s free too.

How to get there: Take the L Train to Bedford Ave. in Brooklyn. Walk north on Bedford to Lorimer St. and hang a right. The Pool will be on the left between Driggs and Bayard Ave.

And McCarren Park is a very large (35 acres), lovely park, worth checking out. It is in the midst of its own renovation by the NYC Parks Department (which seems to have community support, unlike others). Hopefully this will not involve privatization of this public space.

Photo of McCarren Park in the spring: Martha Burzynski