Looks like you’ll have to put your fall picnics on Central Park’s Great Lawn on pause–at least if you were planning to lay out your picnic blankets on this section of it.
As reported by West Side Rag, 12-acres-worth of Central Park’s Great Lawn will be closed at least through April 2024 after sustaining damage from heavy rain and the Global Citizen Festival that took place last month on September 23rd.
Councilmember Gale Brewer wrote a letter to Mayor Eric Adams stating:
The combination of heavy rain, foot traffic, and machinery used for staging destroyed one-third of the Great Lawn. The Central Park Conservancy determined the extent of the damage necessitates immediate closure of the lawn for re-seeding. As a result, 12-acres of public greenspace will be unavailable to New Yorkers until April 2024 or later, all to accommodate a one-day event.
Brewer apparently has “never been a fan of the Global Citizen Festival,” and she also “urged” Mayor Eric Adams and NYC Parks Department Commissioner Sue Donoghue to find a venue other than Central Park to host the annual festival in the future.
Started in 2012, this year the festival drew in tens of thousands of guests to Central Park’s Great Lawn to listen to artists such as the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Lauryn Hill, Jung Kook, Anitta, and more.
The lawn, however, was soggy due to relentless rain that showered NYC with four to five inches of rain prior to the event, and the mass of foot traffic that the event invited didn’t help the issue.
Though The West Side Rag reports that Global Citizen worked closely with the NYC Mayor’s Office, the NYC Department of Parks & Recreation, the Office of Emergency Management, the NYPD, the FDNY and the Central Park Conservancy in the months leading up to the festival, it was ultimately decided that the festival should go on as planned.
Though the 55-acre Great Lawn closes each year mid-to-late November through April anyway (reopening for significant snowfall) New Yorkers will lose out on nearly two months of access to the lawn considering the space closed immediately after the festival.
According to West Side Rag, a spokesperson for the Central Park Conservancy stated:
The use of heavy equipment and intense foot traffic in the saturated conditions from the September 23 concert damaged a large portion of the lawn and fully destroyed a third of it. Our team is now working to restore the lawn, hopefully in time to reopen this spring.
A spokesperson for the Global Citizen told The West Side Rag that it will “work with the Central Park Conservancy to assess and cover the costs of any damage.”