The Prospect Park Litter Mob, a small group of volunteers that gathered to clean up areas of the park, held their last meeting Wednesday, May 8, as a perceived lack of support and feedback from park authorities has left the group exhausted.
"I'm just tired of doing it," said Marie Viljoen, founder of the group. "I thought the Prospect Park Alliance or the Parks Department would be able to match our efforts and give us something in return."
Frank Meuschke, a member of the Litter Mob and gardening blogger agreed, noting that the South end of the park has become a mess with broken staircases and garbage everywhere, whereas the West side of the park looks clean.
He added that zone gardeners would be a welcome addition to the park and would go a long way to make a noticeable improvement. "At least then you would know who to go to when something was wrong," he said.
She noted that she has asked the Prospect Park Alliance to put in a wild flower trail that would help draw people to that area of the park. "With a little bit of support, we would continue," she said. "Actively bring people into the park and teach them about ecology. If people are brought into the woods, [other] people who are currently using the woods solely for hookups will go elsewhere."
Physical improvements, such as trashcans, posts saying not to litter and educational signs would also improve the park, she said. "There's gross litter in here," she continued. "I wouldn't want to bring kids in here right now."
Viljoen, a writer, photographer and gardener, formed the group in May 2011 after she began to notice a large amount of trash in the SouthEast end of the woods. "I started taking pictures of salacious items I found in the woods and the pictures started to get attention," she said. "The Prospect Park Alliance paid attention, and told me I was welcome to help."
For over a year from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m., Viljoen and other volunteers met every other Tuesday to pick up trash and take on other tasks to improve the park.
"We put up fences to stop people from heading into the woods, [because] repeat foot traffic compacts the forest floor and is bad for trees," she said.
"This is the last and largest forest left in Brooklyn," Viljoen said. "It's a really good resource for studying nature in New York."
A spokesperson for the Prospect Park Alliance told Ditmas Park Patch the Park is very grateful for the hard work given to the Park by the Litter Mob. "As with every non-profit in these tough economic times, we have to rely on the contributions of our members and the help of our volunteers," the spokesperson said.
"With 10 million visits a year, keeping Prospect Park clean and beautiful requires a large, dedicated group of volunteers. We cannot thank the Litter Mob enough for their efforts in partnering with our Landscaping Management staff twice per month to help keep the Park clean.”