Just a few days after the Mayor’s unveiling of the city’s GreeNYC initiative, I went to Brooklyn’s McCarren Park with some friends to root for Providence at the Brooklyn Invitational Kickball Tournament. Sunglasses, sunscreen, beach blanket on the grass, the sun high in the sky, a vanilla milkshake from Mr. Softee — it was a beautiful afternoon in the park. But my friends and I were clearly experiencing a different outdoor environment than the McCarren Park facility managers, who apparently decided it was necessary to turn the park’s stadium lights on– in the middle of one of the sunniest, longest days of the year, right after the Mayor finished schooling the city about the importance of energy conservation.
We called 311 to report this ‘do as I say, not as I do’ example of wasteful inefficiency. The first person who answered the 311 call line didn’t seem to understand our gripe at all. She said, “there’s nothing I can do for you if you have a problem with lights that are too bright,” and then hung up. We called back, and our second 311 experience was much more fruitful — we were able to register a complaint with the city, we were given a case number that we could call back and check on, and we were told that our complaint would be “looked into within the next 14 days.” Just two days later, I got a call from the Parks Department, saying that my complaint was received, the lights shouldn’t have been on, and they’d look into ensuring that it wouldn’t happen again.
The City needs to make sure that it’s setting a good example as it continues to talk about sustainability and energy efficiency, or the public won’t take its initiatives seriously! That said, I feel pretty satisfied with the way our (second) 311 call was handled, and I’m especially impressed by the Parks Department’s callback.