Googa Mooga drives off nesting green herons

What Brooklynites could have seen if the Prospect Park Alliance had not rented out the Nethermead for three weeks for $75,000 for Googa Mooga. Excellent photo courtesy of Kenneth Cole Schneider

The green herons that built a nest in a tree on the Nethermead in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park made a classic New York City real estate mistake. They didn’t factor in how loud and annoying Brooklyn hipsters can be. They must have been amazed when the controversial food festival/concert Googa Mooga built its stage 100 feet away. The birds left, abandoning the nest.

Friendly Prospect Park photographer Peter Colen spotted the nest first and got the best pictures of it. He even saw a female sitting on eggs. Well, that was before I was finally able to get into the area to see the nest again after Superfly Productions cleared out most of its heavy materials. The herons are gone, trees are broken, the lawn is ground into mud and what appears to be grilled salmon is rotting on the sidewalk.

The loss of the heron nest was just one more blow to anyone who enjoys a park for being a park and not some on the cheap locale to listen to the Flaming Lips while eating foie gras donuts and having a “VIP cocktail experience.” More galling was that the nest–and the public’s use of a large part of Brooklyn’s best park for three weeks–was sold-out by the Prospect Park Alliance for a microscopic fee of $75,000.

Ever since Michael Powell explained the fee in the Times people in the park have been fuming about how it could have happened. Powell notes that the same NYC Parks Department turned down the historic protest against the Iraq War in Central Park saying it would destroy the lawn. A woman I know in Prospect Park who works with Occupy Wall Street said that the Prospect Park Alliance quoted the group a $1.1 million fee to have a one-day event in the park in which no alcohol could be served and no one could sit on the grass.

The Parks Department only disclosed the shockingly small fee after NYC Park Advocates put in a FOIA request. The Prospect Park Alliance spent $12 million in 2011 (the last year its taxes are available), including about 10% on fundraising. Yet somehow the park can sell-out one of its three great meadows for $75,000 for three weeks.

If Prospect Park Alliance is going to rent out public parkland to the highest bidder, they should at least be a little more aggressive–or competent–in finding the highest bidder. I’d happily set up a page on like Fundraise.comCauseVox  or Fundly so that the community would have a chance out raise $75,000 to have a chance never to hear the words Googa Mooga again.

These green herons aren’t endangered or anything. They’re classified by the IUCN as “least concern.” The park’s many snooty birders won’t even pause to appreciate a green heron if they are busy rushing to see the latest obscure warbler or to harass a dog dog person. Green herons are one of those birds that makes an urban park like Prospect Park such a wonder.


Related posts:


On the advice of a right whale, we have closed comments for this post. If you have something really important to say, email us and we'd be delighted to reopen it for you. (The whale is only trying to prevent spam comments.)