A show of hands by those of you with childhood memories of family park outings– music pumping from a boombox, children running about freely, adults laughing their way through a semi-competitive game of kickball while Uncle Lonnie mans the barbeque grill.
For many families, particularly within communities of color, grilling in the park has long been a die-hard tradition at family reunions, birthday parties or celebrating the 4th of July.But in today’s age of eco-awareness and healthy living, even the most tried and true traditions– for example, smoking in bars or on planes– are retired when there’s enough information (or enough people) to challenge its public annoyance or danger.
And according to one Park Slope resident, grilling in the park is just that: annoying and dangerous. In fact, she has just taken up a petition on change.org, gathering signatures to ask the mayor and the borough president to ban barbequeing in Prospect Park.That resident, Daz Ryan, currently has more than 125 signatures in less than 48 hours– about 75 shy of the required 200 to make the petition official. “Make Prospect Park Toxic Free by 2015” is a campaign that declares carcinogens found in charcoal smoke are a health risk to park goers and nearby residents.
“The number of park users and barbecues has also significantly increased,” said Ryan in the petition’s letter, and “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!”
She names residential areas, where homes become full of smoke, the ball field, where children play baseball and soccer, and park entrances and the park drive “where hundreds if not thousands of people walk, jog and bike” as places where the smoke has become prohibitive.
What do you think? Is it time to ban grilling in Prospect Park? Is doing away with barbequing in parks the healthiest, most environmentally responsible thing to do?
Or is this an over-reaction by a select few and yet another case of “gentrification gone wild?”
Here are some of the comments by residents on the petition’s page.