2021 Year in Review

November 17, 2021

This year the Alliance, through the support of our community, has accomplished so much to sustain Brooklyn’s Backyard. We invite you to make a resolution to stay involved in the coming year: volunteer in the park, plan a visit, or become an Alliance member. There are many ways to make a difference in your park. Learn more about our work this year:

Sustaining the Park

One of the biggest challenges the Alliance has faced during the pandemic is taking care of the park in the face of budget cuts, staff reductions and record use. Through the incredible support of our community, the Alliance launched Re:New Prospect Park, investing critical funds to revitalize the park after a period of significant wear and tear. 

This work included renovated barbecue areas, comfort stations, pathways and drainage; and a new park maintenance partnership with ACE New York, a non-profit that empowers the homeless, which provided an additional crew on peak weekdays and weekends during our high season. In addition, the Alliance brought on board four seasonal groundskeepers to help supplement NYC Parks maintenance crews during this busiest time of year.

The Alliance also expanded its Volunteer Services team and programs, including our popular Green and Go Kit and It’s My Park Monday cleanup events. These efforts engaged more than 1,295 community members over the course of 92 sessions, who cleaned up nearly 1,742 bags of trash and cared for 90 tree beds along the park perimeter.

A new Re:New Volunteer Corps worked alongside Alliance staff on park improvement projects. The crew removed 2.6 tons of invasive vines and weeds; filled 250 holes on the Long Meadow; replenished all playground sandboxes; and sanded and painted 270 linear feet of hand railing, 121 benches, 46 entrance bollards, and the 10 storage containers on Center Drive.

Critical support for this initiative is made possible through generous funding from Amazon, the Leon Levy Foundation, NYC COVID-19 Response and Impact Fund in the New York Community Trust, NYC Green Relief + Recovery Fund, and many generous individuals and community members who made first-time or increased gifts to the Alliance during this challenging time.

Caring for Brooklyn Nature

Following a challenging 2020, the Alliance Landscape Management team was back in action in 2021 conducting its annual plantings of 14,767 trees, shrubs and herbaceous plants of more than 68 native species, while battling the effect of extreme weather. This year Hurricanes Henri and Ida delivered record rainfall in Prospect Park, which resulted in significant erosion and stormwater runoff. Alliance crews cleared drains and protected landscapes in the lead up and following each storm. 

Through funding from NewYork-Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital, the Alliance’s Woodlands  Youth Crew, our signature youth employment program, restored a degraded woodland area by removing invasive plants,  planting native species and creating a new rustic trail with never-before-seen views of the Ravine. In addition, the Alliance had a record year of its commemorative tree program, with 110 new trees planted around the park this spring and fall. The Alliance also celebrated its ecoWEIR pilot program, funded by the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, which naturally filtrates the park’s water supply to lessen the impact of harmful algae blooms on humans, pets and wildlife. 

The Alliance also participated in the Maya Lin “Ghost Forest” public art project, planting 65 native trees, 147 native shrubs and 500 native herbaceous plants at the new Flatbush entrance, the park’s first entrance to directly lead into its woodlands. Alliance designers created a new trail that connects the new entrance to this newly planted landscape, which will continue to be enhanced in coming years. 

Advancing the Park

Many improvement projects were unveiled in the park this past year to increase access and enhance use of the park by all communities. Notable new and revived destinations include scenic new entrances to the park—the first since the 1940s—along Flatbush Avenue through Mayor DeBlasio’s Parks Without Borders initiative, the beautifully restored Concert Grove Pavilion through funding from the Brooklyn Delegation of the New York City Council, and new pathways and lighting in the park’s Northeast Corner through funding from the Mayor. The restored Endale Arch, which debuted in late 2020, was honored this year with a Lucy G. Moses Preservation Award from the Landmarks Conservancy. The Alliance will soon begin work on the restoration of Long Meadow Ball Fields 2+3, the last of the seven fields funded under the leadership of Council Member Brad Lander. 

Engaging the Community

During the pandemic, the Alliance pivoted its popular Pop-Up programs to create Play-and-Go Kits, which families were able to borrow for socially distanced fun, with games and activities adapted from our programs at the Audubon Center and Lefferts Historic House. The program served 5,413 youth and families, who borrowed 1,500 games and activities.

2021 welcomed the start of Re-Imagine Lefferts Historic House, spurred by a restoration funded by the Brooklyn Delegation of the New York City Council. This initiative re-envisions the mission and programming at the museum to recognize the role the house played as a site of slavery, and tell the stories of enslaved Africans and Native Americans who lived and worked the land. This initiative kicked off with the debut of Juneteenth Way across from Lefferts, with interpretive signage and benches painted the colors of the pan-African flag; and the debut of Jamel Shabazz: My Oasis in Brooklyn with Photoville, which showcases 4 decades of portraiture by the acclaimed photographer. The Alliance also kicked off its first Community Conversation to discuss the future of Lefferts programming.

Many beloved partnerships and programs continued, including CaribBEING Prospect Park, a Caribbean-American Heritage Month celebration with caribBEING, University Open Air, presented with the Brooklyn Public Library, and park tours with Turnstile Tours. We also presented our second annual art installation at the Bandshell in partnership with BRIC and NYC Parks, and partnered with Creative Time for The Last Stand, an opera and sound installation inspired by the trees.

Again, we thank you for your support and invite you to make a resolution to stay involved in the coming year: volunteer in the park, plan a visit, or become an Alliance member. There are many ways to make a difference in your park.