Grilling season ended early this year for those barbecuing illegally in two Bronx parks.
Thanks to efforts from residents and a local councilmember, Parks Enforcement Patrol officers cracked down on the issue in Bronx Park East and on the Pelham Parkway greenways.
After repeated concerns from locals and members of Community Board 11 about the presences of dangerous barbecues in the parks on summer weekends, Councilman Ritchie Torres’s office organized a meeting between the residents, Bronx Borough Parks Commissioner Hector Aponte and Parks Enforcement officials in early July.
At the meeting, Parks Enforcement Patrol agreed to send officers to the parks.
“Illegal barbecuing has posed an ongoing nuisance and fire hazard for park-goers in Bronx Park East and Pelham Parkway. After considerable pressure from my office, and the office of Council Member Vacca, the Parks Department has followed through with their commitment to ramp up enforcement,” said Councilman Torres. “I will continue to monitor the progress of this effort so Bronx families can safely enjoy their public parks.”
A spokesman from the Parks Department said that after the meeting, four officers were assigned to the areas each weekend through Labor Day. Throughout the summer, officers issued 29 summonses, according to the Parks Department.
The difference between the number of barbecuers in the park between the beginning of the summer and the end was significant, said Edith Blitzer of the Pelham Parkway Neighborhood Association, and the officers maintained a visible presence in the parks each weekend.
“I guess the message got across,” said Blitzer. “It was very effective.”
The Parks and Recreation committee of Community Board 11 was surprised and pleased by the quick response to the meeting, said Committee chair Joanne Rubino. And although the barbecuing dramatically decreased by the end of the summer, Rubino said the committee is planning to continue to push the issue next spring.
“This year they’ll know from the get-go this won’t be tolerated,” said Rubino.
People who want to barbecue should go to dedicated sites, like the ones in Pelham Bay Park, she said.
“These parks are not meant for that,” said Rubino.
It’s imporant for both the safety of the residents and the preservation of the park that illegal barbecuing be eradicated, said Blitzer.
“We want people to enjoy the park,” said Blitzer. “We don’t want it abused,”