Why Trash Is Piling Up at N.Y.C. Parks

Weather: Mostly sunny, with a high in the upper 80s and scattered afternoon thunderstorms. A wet Saturday gives way to a bright and pleasant Sunday.

Alternate-side parking: In effect until Sept. 7 (Labor Day). Read about the amended regulations here.

So, you’ve noticed more garbage piling up at your public park. You’re not alone.

Across the city’s sprawling park system, New Yorkers are trying to make the most of their hours outdoors, even if it is spent near shattered glass, charcoal heaps and overstuffed trash cans.

The issue is two-pronged: More New Yorkers, deprived of their usual time inside bars, reception halls and friends’ living rooms, have been descending on the city’s public lawns. But the Department of Parks and Recreation has fewer resources to keep up with trash management.

In a recent article, my colleague Sarah Maslin Nir explored why the parks are receiving less care at a time when they seem to be in greater demand. Here’s what she found.

Even in normal times, an uptick in park use like the recent one would have made it harder for workers to keep the green spaces clean. But the city’s fiscal crisis, which was brought on by the pandemic, led to an $84 million cut to parks department funding this fiscal year. That’s a seventh of the department’s total budget.

As a result, the department’s staff has been cut by nearly half. Maintenance hours have been shaved by 25,000 hours per week, too, so crews are able to attend to 400 fewer sites each week.

And earlier this month, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that the department was likely to see more cuts this fall.

“Parks occupy 14 percent of the entire land of the City of New York, so if they are looking rough, the city looks rough and runs the risk — the fear — of going back to the way it was in the ’70s and ’80s,” Adam Ganser, the executive director of the nonprofit New Yorkers for Parks, told Ms. Nir.

“If they are not well taken care of,” he added, “then it feels like the city is not taking care of its citizens.”

Major crimes within city parks, however, were down by about 50 percent between April and June, according to Police Department data.

The parks department has started an awareness campaign urging people to clean up after themselves. City employees will also begin handing out garbage bags to park visitors.

City leaders and neighborhood groups are also working to aid parks. In the Bronx, Ruben Diaz Jr., the borough president, and dozens of volunteers clean up litter on Mondays at Soundview Park. Mr. Diaz calls them “Meaningful Mondays.

Some New York pizza shop owners are reconsidering having the signature slice on their menu. [Washington Post]

The Times’s Melissa Guerrero writes:

Although many performance spaces, museums and community centers are closed, people are finding creative ways to connect through virtual events and programs. Here are suggestions for maintaining a New York social life this weekend while keeping a safe distance from other people.

On Friday at 1 p.m., this event will explain the festival’s origin story, share production highlights and tell the history of Central Park’s Delacorte Theater, the home of the annual summer festival — suspended because of the coronavirus crisis.

Purchase a ticket ($10) on the event page.

Celebrate late summer with Coney Island’s Mermaid Parade, but in a virtual format that its organizers are calling a “Tail-a-Thon.” Starting on Saturday at 1 p.m., musicians, dancers and more will appear in socially distant settings for a livestream lasting at least eight hours.

Access the free event through its website.

In a live cooking show on Saturday at 2 p.m. with the chef Chakriya Un, learn how to make Cambodian fried fish with sauces. The demonstration is presented by Mekong NYC, a nonprofit organization in the Bronx working to empower the Southeast Asians in the city.

Find the show on Facebook or Instagram. Free, but donations are welcome.

It’s Friday — what’s cooking?

Dear Diary:

I used to go into New York from Mount Vernon by myself to see shows, taking the subway downtown from 241st Street. The price had gone up to a dime at the time.

When I got to Times Square, I’d walk up Broadway to Lindy’s for supper. I always had the same thing: ground sirloin steak. It came with a baked potato and wonderful creamed spinach.

I’d also have a beer even though I was underage. The drinking age was 18 then, but at 16 I was 6 feet 6 inches tall. Close enough.

The meal cost less than $5 with tip. I never had the cheesecake for which Lindy’s was famous because I needed the money for a theater ticket.

After dinner, I’d walk up and down among the theaters looking to see what ticket I could get for $10 or less just before curtain time. I would go to $15 for a musical.

You could see almost anything if you timed it right. On one of my trips, I saw “Guys and Dolls.” Alan Alda’s father was in the cast. In the show, Lindy’s became Mindy’s and praises for the cheesecake were sung.

I was lonely, but it was a good lonely and I felt sophisticated beyond my years.

In 1963, I honeymooned in New York, and my wife and I passed what was the second Lindy’s. The cheesecake recipe was posted in the window. We wrote it down, and although my wife became a great cook, she never made the cheesecake.

I wonder what it tasted like.

— Nils Peterson

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