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True Tales From Parks and Recreation - No Half-Naked Laying on Benches


Note: I used to work for a park slowly in continued development in Manhattan that is five miles along the waterfront of the Hudson River. As a Public Programs Coordinator, yours truly handled anything public related in regards to permitting (athletic facilities, film shoots, photo shoots, weddings, and other small gatherings), and of course, dealing with any questions or inquiries from the public. The following series will present stories, e-mails, phone calls, conversations, interactions, and sights I've seen from the people of New York City in regards to a public park. And yes, these are all real! And are all true!

Welcome to another little snippet of Parks and Recreation.


One of my favorite Parks and Recreation quirks was the weird relationship between the Parks Enforcement Officers and the public. Often, the public felt that the officers were not "real enforcers" of the law, and are often scoffed  or simply ignored disrespectfully. "You're not even a real cop!" is usually what you hear. However, Park officers work along side the NYPD, and have the authority to hand out fines and make requests for arrests. They do have legit authority.

There is such a gap in the communication comprehension between the two sides that it always makes for a great story, especially my favorite story ever in Parks and Rec, which I'll share in the near future.

However, this one is just as good, and happened during a summer weekend. After the confrontation between a park patron and a officer took place, the patron, who was very upset, decided to send an e-mail describing what had happened.

"Today I was sunbathing on one of the wide, flat, bed-like benches on Pier 45 in Hudson River Park, when a parks officer (Officer ----, badge #--) woke me up to admonish me that it is now forbidden to lie on these benches. She said I could sit, recline, or repose, as long as I do not lie. (She was not clear on exactly what constitutes lying, but if she saw me doing it again, she would have to tell me not to do it, and if I declined, she would issue a citation.) 
Is this possibly true? And exactly what is the penalty for lying down on a bench designed for lying down? Is their a dress policy alongside the lying and tanning rule? Could it have been because I decided to 'pull up my speedos a bit' to get some sun, where it rarely shines? I find this all to be very stupid of your officers and your park." 

So after responding, the patron decided to come into the office demonstrating in our lobby couches how he was laying which really made for an entertainment moment, and one that challenged my ability to stay professional. He claimed that "tanning in the grass like others was not an option since the blades irritate his skin and that the officer did not find that reasoning to be viable.

To make a long story short, after a few written notes of complaints to our office, the parks enforcement office, and the mayor's office, the ruling stood - absolutely no laying down on benches, especially to tan when your're almost naked.

And of course, as all people do, he wanted a sign near all of the benches displaying those exact words.

Only in Parks and Recreation. And no, signs have yet to be posted.

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