Free for the public no more: Prospect Park announces ‘premium pricing’

Will you still be able to afford this park?

Turns out all our hand-wringing about bike lanes vs. car lanes in Prospect Park was missing the bigger issue: the Borough President’s office announced this morning that due to the city’s budget crunch and the worry that “too many people are littering freely, dumping coals everywhere and otherwise destroying the park without lifting a hand to help,” Prospect Park will be the city’s first pay-to-enter public park, starting next month. More city parks could follow too.

The city plans to install gates at Grand Army Plaza, 15th Street, Parkside Avenue and other major entrances, while the side entrances will be patrolled by NYPD to make sure no one jumps the wall. To make matters worse, the park is instituting “premium pricing:” Members of the park who subscribe to a $1,000 annual “Goldman Access Plan” will be the only ones allowed to barbecue, in addition to getting access to Long Meadow, the bandshell, Picnic House and the lake; the rest of us will probably have to settle for the $500 annual “Groundling Access Plan” which only lets you into the drummer’s grove, the ravine and one of the ball fields. The park says you’ll be able to buy frisbee and soccer upgrade packages, but a previously discussed “runners only” access plan has been withdrawn to install several more high-speed car lanes. See a video explaining the changes at the New York Times.

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