Commish Benepe Gently Reminds “Parkies” to Drive Safely

benepe.jpgFor better and worse, the Parks Dept. seems to be popping up quite a bit lately. In July, Parks was spotted clipping locks and seizing bicycles in Forest Hills, Queens. And last week the agency revoked employee parking permits for Central Park’s East Drive. This week, a tipster sends along this Aug. 6 e-mail sent by Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe, pictured right, to Parks Dept. employees.

Dear Parkies,

We’re halfway through the summer and I know that you have been working hard to give New Yorkers a safe, clean and enjoyable experience at our parks, recreation centers, beaches and pools. Many Parkies have gone beyond the call of duty this summer. The lifeguards at Coney Island were recently faced with a dangerous situation and dealt with it in a professional manner, keeping beach goers and their fellow employees out of harm’s way while trying to save a life. Their actions and attitude set an inspirational example for all of us.

Many New Yorkers write to me about their experiences in parks and it is heartening to read about the great work you’re doing. However, I also occasionally receive complaints about the behavior of Parks employees. These complaints range from employees who are rude, to employees who yell and swear at Park patrons, to reckless drivers in Parks vehicles who may endanger pedestrians. We know that most of our employees are true professionals who are always polite.

That’s why I encourage you all to put your best face forward, even in trying situations. If you simply treat all our visitors the way you would want to be treated, everyone will have a great day in our parks.

Thank you,

Adrian Benepe, Commissioner

Photo: SuperEvilBrian on Flickr

  • In general the Park Department and the Conservancy workers should really try as hard as possible to keep parks as a Quiet Refuge. Using noisy industrial equipment like leaf blowers, mowers and small golf-cart-like vehicles should be minimized as much as possible (how about broom?) and reserved for off-hours.

    I would love to see workers using more brooms, push-mowers and transport themselves around bikes/trikes…

  • mork

    Hear hear on the broom suggestion!

  • t

    Having parks vehicles drive UNDER the posted speed limit would also be a good idea. It’s 25 when the park is open to traffic, but should be much lower when service vehicles have to share space with runners, bikers, and pedestrians. I’d suggest a 15 mph limit for parks dept. vans and trucks.

  • ln

    Parks needs to ease up on their love of polluting vehicles. They drive everywhere, last night one almost ran a few of us over driving in front of the 79th st boat basin–with the high beams on.

    Why dont they ride bikes, and trykes or at least drive electric cars.

  • alex

    Well, if yesterday and this evening are any indication, the parks employees could care less what their boss says.
    Yesterday, as I was running with my girlfriend on the upper portion of the Bridle Path in CP, a parks department golf cart was racing towards us taking up nearly the entire Bridle Path. As the cart zoom passed us, several overhanging gardening tools nearly struck me in the chest/head. Fortunately, I swatted them away (out of the cart and onto the ground) causing the parks employee to stop and wonder why their tools had fallen out of their cart.
    This evening, my girlfriend, another friend, and I were enjoying dinner on the Great Lawn in CP. As the softball games ended and folks began packing up we enjoyed the peacfulness of the emptying Great Lawn… for a few minutes. After about 10 minutes of quiet, we were startled by the approaching hum of a motor and a voice yelling, “Move it out, move it out, move it out!” Not being cattle we assumed that we were not the target of the seemingly angry person. Unfortunately, the yelling and the hum of the gold cart motor grew louder until both were about 20 feet from our picnic. The shadowed figure now began yelling, “Pack it up and take it out, pack it up and take it out, the park’s closed!”
    Upon realizing we were the one’s being yelled at in the dark, we began packing up our picnic. Of course, we wanted to know the rules so I shouted over to the parks employee, “When does the lawn close?” After three subsequently louder shouts he finally replied, with a multi-minute tirade about darkness and shortening of daylight hours and blah-blah-blah.
    He then drove off.
    Ah… but only if it were so simple.
    When we walked over to the place we had entered the lawn – no more than 5 minutes after we had been told to “Move out!” we found the small wire fence had been shut. Since we could now hear the hum of the golf cart in the distance, we had to disassemble the gate to let ourselves out.

    Anyways, sorry for the rant. I had read this post earlier today and have found experiences of uncivil interactions with parks employees in CP to be far from rare.
    To be fair, I assume the majority of parks employees work hard and provide postive interactions with the public. Indeed, I always notice when golf cart driving employees completely stop to allow peds to pass without having to breathe in a dusty breeze. But the fact that entirely uncivil and outright rude behavior approaches the commonplace among parks employees is not acceptable and does not appear to have been affected by the commissioner’s memo.


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