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Park slobs on grill for leaving mess

Bronx Times

Community Board 10 may have to grill the Parks Department on what exactly is its grilling policy.

Smoke, smells, and garbage left behind by those barbecuing in the park along the Bruckner Boulevard service road between Middletown Road and Wilkinson Avenue have residents of one- to three-family homes near the park complaining to the local board, said district manager Kenneth Kearns.

A substantial portion of the area, mostly along Bruckner Boulevard between Middletown Road to the Buhre Avenue footbridge, is officially off limits for barbecuing.

But even if the parkgoers stick to where it is allowed along Bruckner Boulevard, there are still issues with massive amounts of garbage left behind, cars double and triple parking along the boulevard, and people cutting through the fence lining the street rather than walking around it or through the opening next to the footbridge, Kearns said.

Long-standing issues with Pelham Bay Park barbecuing came to the forefront, Kearns said, after adjoining Community Board 11 and Councilman Jimmy Vacca looked into a similar situation and Parks banned barbecuing in Bronx Park. Residents there opposed creating designated grilling areas across from apartment buildings on Bronx Park East,

“We felt that there was a similar situation in Pelham Bay Park where the area bordered a residential community, in our case not really apartment buildings, but one- to three-family homes close to the park,” Kearns said. “People have complained about the odors, smells, and garbage. We have been talking about this for years, and the Parks Department says it allows barbecuing there because it is a regional park.”

Kearns said it is a shame that since the space is abused by a few, all using the park will suffer.

The Parks Department recognizes the area near Arnow Place and Bruckner Boulevard as an area where barbecuing is permitted.

Pelham Bay Park administrator Marianne Andersson said the vast majority of people using the area pick up after themselves, and often ask Parks for garbage bags.

“As in past years, Parks will continue to prohibit barbecuing in the areas adjacent to Middletown Road,” Anderson said. “Pelham Bay Park has had designated barbecue areas in effect for more than 20 years in both the North and South Picnic Areas. In addition, there is signage throughout the park to let barbecuers know what areas are off-limits to picnicking and barbecuing.”

A visit to the Park on Sunday, June 24 showed an area south of the Buhre Avenue footbridge along Bruckner Boulevard as “a no barbecuing area,” with signage placed on the lawn abutting the roadway and on a fence at an entrance to the park.

To the north of the signage, in front of the Buhre Avenue footbridge, debris was strewn about.

Andersson said the park has come a long way in the last two decades.

“I have worked in Pelham Bay Park for the last 23 years, and as a Bronxite, have been visiting the park and beach my entire life,” she said.

“In the past, yes, there were issues with crowded picnic areas, people parking cars on lawns, and triple parking on Bruckner Boulevard. However, over the past two decades, this has changed dramatically,” she said.

“The Pelham Bay Park Administrator’s Office worked with both Community Board 10 and the 45th Precinct to tackle these issues.”

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