Enter this city park at your own risk.
Parks Department workers are slamming shut the cast-iron gates of one Manhattan green space ahead of closing time, even with visitors inside.
“Park’s closed! Locking the gate,” a worker bellowed at 8:56 p.m. Thursday, an hour ahead of the scheduled 10 p.m. closing time at historic Stuyvesant Square. He booted a half dozen visitors enjoying a warm early fall evening and turned away others trying to enter.
The worker, who refused to give his name and was wearing a mask around his chin, said he was traveling north from Chinatown to lock up city parks.
Another worker closed the gates even earlier on Wednesday, at 8:40 p.m., just as two dog walkers tried to go through the park, which straddles Second Avenue from East 15th to East 17th streets. It includes fountains, benches and a dog run.
“The park’s closed now,” she said without explanation.
One area resident griped on the NextDoor community forum that a parks worker, whom he identified as John, has become confrontational in recent weeks, ordering him to leave at around 8:45 p.m. on Sept. 20.
“He held a powerful flashlight, which he proceeded to shine directly in my eyes. I asked him to move the light away from my eyes and he refused to move it,” the park-goer wrote.
He said he was then locked inside the park, freed only by another Parks Department employee who had also bailed him out a few weeks earlier when he got locked in. At the time, the worker told him that John ignores the posted closing time so he can “go home early,” the man wrote.
“John continues to grow more threatening with each encounter; he blatantly ignores the park’s posted rules and repeatedly harasses its patrons,” he wrote, saying he complained to the Parks Department.
Citywide, there have been 535 complaints to 311 from Jan. 1 through Wednesday about parks not being open. There were 10 complaints about Seward Park in Manhattan; nine about Maria Hernandez Park in Bushwick; seven about Harmony Park in Brooklyn; and five about Central Park.
There were seven complaints lodged about Stuyvesant Square.
The park dates to an 1836 sale of the land to the city by Peter Gerard Stuyvesant, a descendant of Peter Stuyvesant, the last Dutch governor of New Amsterdam. Some activists have demanded that the city remove the statute of the Dutchman from the square because of his anti-Semitic views.
“Our staff travel across each borough every day to manage openings and closings of facilities during their shift. It takes crews three to four hours to lock all Manhattan playgrounds and gated parks, so sometimes facilities will be closed earlier or later than the time posted,” a Parks Department spokeswoman said. “We understand the importance of public space and will work to maximize the time that Stuyvesant Square is available to the public.”
The department said it was “actively investigating the incident” of the park-goer being locked in.
New York Post
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