It's been awhile--okay, since July--since I updated P:AYITP; I hate blogger apologies (with their presumption that a yearning world has been on edge since one's last entry), but blame gardening for eating up my outdoor time and Facebook for draining off the yen to share.
This past week, however, it was just about irresistible to get back in the game; our once-derelict park is, it seems, like much of Brooklyn, "hot." On a roll. Climbing the A-list.
First up, there's a book out, Prospect Park: Olmsted and Vaux's Brooklyn Masterpiece, by David P. Colley and Elizabeth Keegin Colley. It's a big, handsome, official-looking volume--one I want to own; I'm looking forward to reading it and telling you about it soon. The author/photographer team (and park queen mother Tupper Thomas) talked about it last month at the Brooklyn Public Library, and they clearly love and respect their subject.
A contentious topic that bubbled up in the Q&A after that polite event was Lakeside, the stupendously expensive and expansive new skating rink and shore restoration project. When the rest of the park still makes a poor mouth for maintenance and things like education programs at the Audubon Center, it's inevitable that some of us wonder about priorities. The New York Times, however, does not wonder; they just ran a "Critic's Notebook" paean to the mammoth project as it lumbers toward completion. (If you follow this blog, you got a preview a year ago, here.)
The Times was dazzled by the trendy architecture, comparing its bold design to that of the Rockefeller Center rink, and sneered at the "musty lockers and dubious hot dogs" of the ugly old Robert Moses-era rink, now demolished. Musty and dubious they were, but one thing worries me about this new eco-friendly skating paradise landing in my end of the park: What will it cost to get in? One forgave the old rink its miserable inadequacies because it was cheap; on days off from school, big families would pile up to enter. Will the gorgeous new showpiece charge Rock-Center-level admission? That'll keep out the riff-raff, I guess. Like me. The opening is now slated for December, so we'll find out soon.
And speaking of exclusive, this Friday promises a bizarre new chapter in the park's history: its first complete closure for the arrival of a (presumably airborne) U.S. president. "Prospect Park will be closed on Friday, October 25 from 12 – 6pm due to security associated with the President's visit. We apologize for any inconvenience." says the announcement. (POTUS is visiting a nearby high school in Crown Heights.) Even in Barak-loving Brooklyn, there's been a frisson of resentment online. Just call it ObamaMooga.