Gowanus Lounge: Serving Brooklyn

Slope Harmony Playground Workers Argue, Curse & “Threaten” People

June 26th, 2008 · 27 Comments

Harmony PlaygroundIt looks like some workers were behaving badly at the Harmony Playground in Park Slope this week. (This is not to be confused with the workers smoking at the same playground or with the recently wet ‘n wild gyrating nanny.) The story comes through our Park Slope Network in the form of a forwarded email from the Park Slope Parents Group leaked by a member and it has all the elements of a compelling story including cursing, speaking in an alleged threatening tone to a parent and, of course, more smoking. Here is the tale of woe:

On Monday I was at the 9th Street Playground with my two daughters and a friend’s daughter. When I went to take the girls to the bathroom, we walked by two Parks Department employees who were engaged in a very loud argument. They were using foul language and when I asked them not to do so in front of the children, they told me (in a threatening way) to mind my own business. Then then continued their argument and, when it was over, sat down on the bench and started smoking cigarettes. I called 311 to anonymously report the incident to the parks department and I hope others do the same if they witness this sort of behavior. Also, you might think twice before sending a child to the girls bathroom on her own. I was under the impression that the employees are there to help people at the playground, not to threaten them.

Here is a response that was attached to the same email:

I have had a similar experience at that playground. I went to Litchfield Villa (Prospect Park’s headquarters, the mansion in the
park between 3rd and 4th streets). They were very responsive to my complaint and actually came back to the playground with me with a supervisor. Also, if these workers were in blue shirts,they are likely welfare to work and not employees per se but still under the jurisdiction of the Parks Department.

We’ll see if any other allegations of bad behavior are sent our way.

Tags: Park Slope · Parks

27 responses so far ↓

  • 1 tony baloney // Jun 26, 2008 at 9:52 am

    this is brooklyn, right?

  • 2 Janet // Jun 26, 2008 at 9:52 am

    This is nothing new. I’m missing what impact this would have on a parent’s sending a child to the toilet alone. These women are not a threat, they’re just paying no attention to their surroundings or their “jobs”.

    It was regular cigarettes they were smoking, right?

  • 3 slopedweller // Jun 26, 2008 at 11:51 am

    This is pretty funny. Its probably comes from the same group of lunatics and tools who ride bicylces in Prosepct Park and that think they can ignore red lights and other traffic rules and threaten pedisterns with being run down.
    I also love how they insist on closing streets to throw block parties “for the kids” and “stoop sales” which has the result screweing up everyone else’s attempts to go about their lives. On top of all that now, they want to be the speech police. I live in the slope and I like it, but my neighbors suck, they are selfish pompous self-absorbed pigs.

  • 4 don't believe it or not // Jun 26, 2008 at 11:53 am

    Looks like someone doesn’t like it when the help gets uppity.

  • 5 ff // Jun 26, 2008 at 12:26 pm

    The help is really getting uppity these days. I was going over this with my chauffeur the other day and he agrees that something has got to be done to make these people know their place.

  • 6 Park Slope mom // Jun 26, 2008 at 1:39 pm

    Would it be okay if someone who worked for you fought, swore, smoked and harassed people while you upaid for it? These are our tax dollars, after all.
    I’m so tired of this Park Slope bashing. If anyone complains about anything that happens in Park Slope these days, they’re declared pompous self-absorbed pigs. I don’t know about you, but I don’t feel safe letting young children hang out on their own around people who are cursing and yelling. Call me uptight.

  • 7 Park Slope mom // Jun 26, 2008 at 1:45 pm

    And why did you assume these people are women and that they’re not threatening? Generally, when someone yells and swears at me, I find it a tad threatening. Maybe that’s just me.

  • 8 Anne_NYC // Jun 26, 2008 at 2:45 pm

    Ok, I am a mom in Brooklyn and I have seen these “workers” as well. Their office is right outside of the women’s bathroom and they are just as described. My two year old is a walking tape recorder and I hate that these park workers think it’s okay to curse up a storm in front of the kids. I am certainly not going to police people on the street but if you work at a park dedicated to kids, the least you could do it watch your language. I always wonder why they took the job…

  • 9 CK // Jun 26, 2008 at 4:02 pm

    These are almost certainly welfare-to-work folks, which the Parks Department uses to supplement their hideously short permanent staff (less than 2,000, down from 6,000 35 years ago). They didn’t “take” the job–they are required to show up in order to get their checks. I used to work for Parks and these folks are a nightmare to supervise, since they have been out of the working world for years and have no skills. It’s unfortunate that they are staffing playgrounds but the real answer is more funding for Parks staff.

  • 10 slopedweller // Jun 26, 2008 at 5:06 pm

    park slope mom maybe no one would threaten you if you minded your own business. Your tax dollars? You have no idea if they were on a break, or off shift, or even employed. By the way even if your tax dollars were getting used, people still have a right to say what they want include cursing. Furtermore you twit its a public park and people are allowed to curse in it. Thank god we have the first amendment to protect us from (insert swear word of choice here) like you. I hope I see you in the park and I will swear at you too.

  • 11 knithoundbrooklyn // Jun 26, 2008 at 5:26 pm

    To counter this experience, I want to tell you a few weeks ago I hosted a small group of knitters in the park one evening after work. We were situated next to the Picnic House, enjoying the fine weather when a Park employee responsible for watching the Rest Rooms at the Picnic House approached to tell us she was closing up for the evening, in case anyone needed to use the facilities before she locks up.

    So it ain’t all bad, folks. There are considerate people out there, and there are inconsiderate ones. Don’t let it ruin your day for Pete’s sake.

  • 12 Brooklyn Rog // Jun 26, 2008 at 5:56 pm

    This is still NYC. Not some kind of bucolic suburb. If people cursing around your kid is your biggest concern you’re leading a charmed life. If you want a sanitary environment for your kid a NYC park probably shouldn’t be your first option. Either find a private playground or move to CT or NJ. City workers don’t get paid enough to care about your kid being a walking tape recorder.

  • 13 Another Park Slope Mom // Jun 26, 2008 at 6:50 pm

    There wouldn’t be as much Park Slope bashing if the denizens of Park Slope could stop their whining. So some people cursed. So what?

    Did it ever occur to you that you making this into an incident will leave a larger impact on your child than the cursing itself?

  • 14 Park Slope mom // Jun 26, 2008 at 7:12 pm

    I don’t think you people get it. It wasn’t about someone cursing. That happens all the time. The issue is that these people are working at a playground. Would you hire a pre-school teacher to curse and smoke around your child? If they were on break, they should have left the playground.
    I’m not sure how telling someone not to curse is going to leave a negative impact on a child. On the other hand, having “responsible” adults fighting in front of a child in a so-called safe place could leave a negative impact.

    And, of course, there are considerate, thoughtful parks workers out there. And of course, there should be more funding for Parks staff.

    I get the feeling that people who bash Park Slope genuinely believe the hype — the truth is that not all of the people who live in Park Slope are white, Ivy League grads with trust funds/holiday bonuses. Most of the people I know here are just struggling to make ends meet, like everyone else.

    Not sure why everyone seems to assume that the initial poster was being an elitist snob by her initial complaint.

  • 15 Park Slope mom // Jun 26, 2008 at 7:14 pm

    And, of course, it’s a public park and people are allowed to curse in it — but not employees.

    That said, fuck off, slopedweller.

  • 16 another angry mom // Jun 26, 2008 at 7:17 pm

    Who said anything about this being their biggest complaint? Maybe this was a single mom coming out of an abusive relationship who didn’t want her children to hear more foul language and fighting.
    I’m so tired of people jumping to negative conclusions and assuming the worst of everybody. Why does everyone think the Park Slope parent who posted leads a lily-white cloistered life and should move to Ct?

  • 17 Brenda from Flatbush // Jun 26, 2008 at 7:34 pm

    I’m delighted to learn that a parent spoke up for civil behavior by public employees in a space meant for children. It couldn’t matter less what neighborhood it took place in. Regrettably, I picked up the habit of cussing like a sailor, but I have the decency to try to curb my tongue around kids, my own and others. (“Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue.”) Loud and aggressive use of obscenity around children is a form of verbal threat/abuse, worse than mere inconsideration, and it’s more and more “acceptable.” Bravo to everyone who takes a stand; and if that’s “so Park Slope,” then that’s the nicest thing I’ve heard about those much-maligned Slopers in months.

  • 18 slopedweller // Jun 26, 2008 at 8:07 pm

    hah nice job slope mom, using bad language on a website that kids can see, just another hypocrite fraud loud mouth loser/poser. And no thanks, not into fat moms and besides that you could’nt handle it any way. Who cares if they are working on a playground they can say what they want its a public space, you don’t won it and if you don’t like it then do us all a favor and go crawl back under the rock you came out from under, you facist.

  • 19 joe // Jun 26, 2008 at 8:11 pm

    “That said, fuck off, slopedweller.”

    Pot meet kettle.

    Now go take care of your fucking brats and stop your whining.

  • 20 Park Slope mom // Jun 26, 2008 at 8:39 pm

    Ever heard of a sense of humor?
    Try to get one.
    The “fuck off, slopedweller” was intended as an ironic joke. But clearly, subtlety is lost on you folks.
    I’m gonna log out of here and return to my cushy, pampered lifestyle.

  • 21 prez st // Jun 26, 2008 at 8:51 pm

    wow.. judging from the maturity of most of this dicussion, i think i’d rather have my kid hear swearing than some of the nonsensical hatred that’s being spewed here.

  • 22 Nokilissa // Jun 26, 2008 at 8:57 pm

    I actually thought Park Slope Mom’s response, including her perfectly placed “fuck off Slopedweller” was balanced, fair, thoughtful, and funny. Slopedweller more than deserved it and it showed she wasn’t some anal retentive park-slope yuppified prude like she was being made out to be.
    This is decidedly not a case of Pot. Kettle. Black. Joe, You simpleton. And that cliche is a huge yawn.

    Brenda from Flatbush, a delight, as always.

  • 23 meg // Jun 27, 2008 at 12:45 am

    i loved the subtle racism of the “welfare to work” comment- that’s really nice…

  • 24 Ted // Jun 27, 2008 at 7:32 am

    @slopedweller “I also love how they insist on closing streets to throw block parties “for the kids” and “stoop sales” which has the result screweing up everyone else’s attempts to go about their lives.”

    How does a block party “screw up your attempt to go about your life”? What, did you have to get off your fat ass and move your car? Oh, poor you!

    Talk about entitlement. Go back to Ohio.

  • 25 Blink // Jun 27, 2008 at 8:33 am

    “it has all the elements of a compelling story including cursing, speaking in an alleged threatening tone to a parent and, of course, more smoking”

    No, it has all the ingredients for starting the same old thread on the same old go-to subject for every blogger-outta-ideas in Brooklyn. This is getting so old, it demonizes people and helps to make park slope the most tense place in New York City.

  • 26 local mom // Jun 27, 2008 at 9:33 am

    Let’s not forget that noone came to this site looking for comments on this subject; This post was lifted from another site – with a more sympathetic audience who realize that raising kids is tough and expecting park workers to curb their language and not smoke in an area frequented by children shouldn’t be considered outrageous.

  • 27 park slope dad // Jun 27, 2008 at 2:54 pm

    I’ve lived near the Harmony Playground since my kids were born, and I’ve always been struck by how many different kinds of people use it–not just at the same times, but together: kids of all colors and backgrounds playing side-by-side in the sandbox, chasing each other with water balloons, climbing around the play structures (whatever you call those things). I know the cynics and trolls among you will say, “how nice that the white guy appreciates the diversity we provide for his kids’ education,” but that’s not my point. Given all the tension in the neighborhood (stoked by “journalists” too lazy to come up with a new story idea), it’s worth noting the things and places that do work. If we can get along in the playground, maybe we can get along in the community in general.

    And among all the different types of parents in the playground, I don’t think you’d find too many who think it’s appropriate for its employees (however they came to be assigned there) to be swearing, smoking, and acting hostile around little kids. Free speech is a wonderful thing, but so is taking responsibility for your behavior and showing consideration for the people around you. Not to mention treating each other like individual human beings, not generic members of a group to be hated as a matter of policy–both in the park and on this blog. There’s no “us” and “them” about respect. It’s just good manners–even in Brooklyn.