Members of Community Board 11 are calling for enforcement against illegal barbecuing in Bronx Park East and along Pelham Parkway.
With the weather warming up, illegal barbecuing in those areas has become rampant on sunny weekends, said Joanne Rubino, chair of Community Board 11’s parks committee.
Despite posted signs throughout the parks alerting visitors that barbecues and open flames are prohibited, she said at least ten parties were out barbecuing at the same time on Memorial Day this year.
Board members are working to form a task force with community representatives, electeds, the Parks Department, and the 49th precinct to find a solution, Rubino said.
Board 11 member Dominic Schiano said the solution needs to come from the police or the Parks Department.
“Start giving out tickets,” he said. “See how fast these people stop.”
Forty-ninth Precinct Community Affairs Officer Jay Sturdivant said that while barbecues are not a high priority, police do respond to 311 calls and complaints about the issue. When that happens, he said the officers ask them to leave, and only ticket when they won’t cooperate. But Sturdivant said the Parks Department has overall responsibility for patrolling the parks.
A Parks spokesperson said in a statement that Parks Enforcement Patrol officers conduct regular patrols throughout the borough, including along Bronx Park East and Pelham Parkway, to educate and inform the public about parks regulations.
“This past year, NYC Parks added 81 new, full-time PEP officers citywide, doubling the number of PEP officers we have on patrol,” they said.
Rubino said there has been an absence of PEP officers in the two parks in the past, resulting in dozens of barbecuers who think it’s ok.
She said they leave not only garbage in the park but hot coals.
“It’s not only a quality of life issue,” she said, “it’s a safety issue.”
Schiano said he’s seen flames from barbecues singeing the leaves of trees. The cookouts also pose health concern, he said, with smoke drifting into Pelham Parkway apartments, possibly affecting residents with asthma.
“These people have no regard or concern for people other than themselves,” he said.
Edith Blitzer of the Pelham Parkway Neighborhood Association said that 40 years ago nobody dreamed of barbecuing in the park, but things have changed, especially in the last five years.
She wants people to enjoy the park, but she’s afraid barbecuers will end up destroying it.
“Let them party, let them picnic, I don’t care,” said Blitzer. “Just don’t barbecue, and clean it up.”