Fort Greene Park Bathroom Disparity Exposed

Ft Greene Park Bathrooms. Photo from NYC Parks Department.

City Council Candidate for District 35 Renee Collymore who has been crusading for a new and improved public bathroom on the northside of Fort Greene Park near Myrtle Avenue has finally made some headway.

“This has been something I’ve been working on. It’s so important for folks of color to have a dignified bathroom honestly and I’ve been saying this from day one and there’s no reason why they had been refusing it,” said Collymore.

The bathroom in question is across from NYCHA’s Ingersoll and Whitman Housing developments, which houses over 4,000 primarily Black and Brown families. Ingersoll Tenant Association President Darold Burgess confirmed that he had spoken with Collymore about the disparity between the two bathrooms in the park, one on their side and the other at the top of the hill near Dekalb Avenue side. Collymore said that they had never directly spoken with one another about the bathroom issue.

Collymore referred to the Dekalb Avenue side bathroom as “beautiful” and said the conditions were far better kept. “The Myrtle Avenue side is decrepit. Tiles lifted up off the floor, homeless in there, drugs, this and that, it’s just unattended to. No one monitors the bathroom. The other bathroom has people from the tourist center in there constantly and people working in it,” said Collymore.

She said she reached out to a local architect to draw up new, modern, and affordable designs for an improved comfort station.

Burgess said he made the initial request to the city for three porta potties to be placed behind the northside bathroom to help with the situation, and has also recently spoken with New York City Department of Parks and Recreation Martin Maher about “these concerns.”

The additional portable units will be open from April 1 to November 1, said the parts department.

On April 1, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, at the behest of Collymore, penned a letter to the Parks Commissioner in support of improvements to the northside restroom in Fort Greene Park.

“Community leader Renee Collymore has brought to my attention that Fort Greene Park’s northside comfort station, a long-neglected piece of infrastructure, has not been included in the Parks Without Borders funding earmarked for this area of the park. This news was troubling, especially knowing that one of the goals of Parks Without Borders is to assist in rectifying inequities in parks investment as well as to make parks more accessible to everyone,” wrote Adams.

The Parks Department spokesperson said that a new comfort station had never been part of the Parks Without Borders design at Fort Greene and a project for one is not currently funded.

Adams said in his letter that he was willing to commit capital funding from the 2022 capital budget for the parks department to ensure repairs and upgrades are made to the comfort station.

“We are working to improve Fort Greene Park to benefit all members of the surrounding community. Recently, through the support of the Fort Greene Park Conservancy we were able to add three portable units on the north side of the park behind the existing comfort station for the convenience of all parkgoers,” said a Parks Department Spokesperson. 

“We will connect with Borough President Adams’ office in the near future to further discuss his concerns,” she added in response to the letter.

[Updated Monday, April 12 with Collymore’s comment]

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