2022 Year in Review

In 2022, Prospect Park Alliance, through the support of our community, accomplished so much to sustain Brooklyn’s Backyard. The year began with the appointment of longtime Alliance President Sue Donoghue to her new role as NYC Parks Commissioner, and, as we recently announced, we ended the year on a high note with the appointment of a new President and Park Administrator, Morgan Monaco.

Take a look at all that we have accomplished together this year through our community’s support:

Sustaining the Park

To address the challenges of sustaining the park, this year we asked our community to commit to being Park Champions to help us keep Brooklyn’s beloved backyard green and healthy for the people, plants and animals that depend on it.

The Park Champion campaign encouraged park lovers to take an active role in stewarding our shared green space, raising awareness for how each of us can do our part in the park. This initiative included a Park Champion pledge which garnered over 1,500 signatures, and the rollout of a new Champion mascot, which our community came together to name Thelonious “Theo” Chipmunk.

One way to Be a Park Champion was to join one of the dozens of volunteer events that happened in the park this year. These included our popular Green and Go Kit and It’s My Park Monday cleanup events, as well as weekend Park Pitch-Ins, where engaged individuals and community groups were mobilized for Earth Day, Lake Appreciation Month and other special events. Over the course of 2022, these efforts engaged 2,333 community members at 42 events, who volunteered 11,627 of their hours cleaning up more than 750 bags of trash and caring for the park’s natural areas through invasive plant removal, mulching and much more.

The Re:New Volunteer Corps worked alongside Alliance and NYC Parks staff on park improvement projects. The crew removed invasive vines and weeds, cleaned and edged pathways and spruced up park playgrounds. Their work was part of the second year of the Re:New Initiative, an Alliance investment of critical funds to revitalize the park after a period of significant wear and tear. As part of the initiative, our continued maintenance partnership with ACE New York, a non-profit that empowers the homeless, provided an additional crew on weekdays and weekends during our high season.

Critical support for this initiative is made possible through funding from many individuals, community members and corporate and foundation partners who continue to generously support the Alliance. The ACE crew is partially funded via a grant from Amazon.

Caring for Brooklyn Nature

Prospect Park Alliance’s Landscape Management team addressed the  wear and tear of our natural areas from heavy park usage as well as the summer’s prolonged drought, which forced a shift in priorities. In order to keep young trees and newly restored landscapes alive, staff resources were redeployed to bring water where it was needed. The effects of the drought were largely mitigated thanks to their efforts.

The Landscape Management team approached their overall care of the park through recently created  “Ecological Zones” to optimize resources and more effectively ensure the equitable care of the park. The work in each of these areas is overseen by an Ecological Zone Gardener, aided by a dedicated group of volunteers. Ecological assessments were conducted in each of these zones, and as restoration work progresses, updated assessments will help staff  determine over time the efficacy of their efforts.

Across these Ecological Zones, the Landscape Management team conducted a robust set of spring and fall plantings of 15,675 trees, shrubs and herbaceous plants of more than 124 native species. The area around the LeFrak Center at Lakeside, a heavily landscaped area of the park, underwent a transformation. To combat invasive species of plants that have taken root, Alliance gardeners employed eco-friendly weed-suppression techniques and successfully replanted the landscape with beneficial and climate-resilient plantings.

2022 also marked a banner year for the Woodlands Youth Crew, our signature youth employment program. Teens from a record number of local high schools participated in the program, removing invasive species and working on erosion control along the park’s watercourse, all while learning about environmental conservation and park stewardship. The Alliance’s youth employment programs receive generous support from the Gray Foundation, the Macy’s Foundation, NewYork-Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital and the William C. Bullitt Foundation.

Advancing the Park

Many improvement projects were underway in the park this past year to increase access and enhance use of the park by all communities. At the end of 2021, former Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a historic $40 million allocation to restore the Vale in Prospect Park. This funding is the largest single allocation in the history of Prospect Park Alliance, and will restore important landscapes within the 26 acres in the northeast corner of the park called the Vale. This year, the Alliance re-engaged the community for feedback on the proposed vision and has begun the design phase.

The Alliance also broke ground on Parade Ground Fit, a District 40 participatory budgeting initiative that transforms the southwest corner of the Prospect Park Parade Ground into a community space to support health and wellness in the neighborhood. Work kicked off on the Grand Army Plaza Berms and Bailey Fountain Plaza Restoration, and the Prospect Park Carousel’s beloved horses received a refresh ahead of the start of the 2022 season. In April 2022, Prospect Park Alliance received a top honor at the Lucy G. Moses Preservation Awards—The Preservation Organization Award, in recognition of the Alliance’s excellent stewardship for the collection of historic structures and sites in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park.

Additionally, the Alliance kicked off work on the restoration of Grand Army Plaza with the replanting of its landscaped berms, and engaged the public around the restoration of the Lakeshore, which received critical funding in 2022 from the Brooklyn Delegation of the City Council and Mayor Eric Adams.

Engaging the Community

2022 marked the reopening of the Prospect Park Audubon Center for the first time since the start of the pandemic. Between the facility’s weekly hours and the summer’s popular Pop-Up programs, 32,476 youth and families borrowed 4,298 games and activities to enrich their understanding of nature in the park. This work was aided by the 2022 cohort of Park Youth Representatives, an Alliance seasonal employment program for high school students which introduces a budding generation of park advocates to careers in environmental and museum education. The Alliance’s environmental education programs receive generous support from Con Edison, Hearst Foundations and National Audubon Society.

In 2022, the Alliance held cultural events in conjunction with the ReImagine Lefferts, an initiative to re-envision the mission and programming at the museum to tell the stories of the enslaved Africans who lived and worked on the Lefferts farm, and the Indigenous people of the Lenapehoking whose unceded ancestral lands the farm rested upon. A partnership with Writing the Land engaged Black and Native American poets to create park-inspired poetry, and photographer Jamel Shabazz curated The Brooklyn Connection, an outdoor art exhibition featuring the work of six rising photographers living in Brooklyn.

2022 also marked the 200th birthday of Frederick Law Olmsted, co-designer of Prospect Park, and to celebrate, Prospect Park Alliance hosted a number of events in partnership with Olmsted 200. In October, the Alliance joined together with many local organizations to present the first City of Forest Day, a day of activities across the city to raise awareness of the importance of the New York City urban forest.

Many beloved partnerships and programs continued, including Caribbean-American Heritage Month celebration presented by I AM caribBEING and JOUVAYFEST COLLECTIVE and University Open Air, presented with the Brooklyn Public Library. We presented our third art installation at the Bandshell in partnership with BRIC and NYC Parks, and hosted a Soundwalk in partnership with NYC Parks, USDA Forest Service, and The Nature of Cities. We also welcomed new cultural programs, including the Haitian Flag Day Selebrasyon in partnership with the Haiti Cultural Exchange, and Summer Tea in Prospect Park, presented with Tea Arts & Culture.

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.