Photo in Central Park by Karina.

Riverside and Central Park both sustained significant damage from Hurricane Sandy, and the parks still aren’t safe for people to enter. That hasn’t stopped some people from ducking under police tape to go in, however. Police have been stationed at some entrances to keep people from going in.

Gale Brewer’s office tells us this is a serious concern:

“We have received reports that residents are taking down the barriers to entrances at Central Park. This is very dangerous and put both the public and city workers who are clearing the area at risk. All NYC parks remain closed, including Central Park. Please do not enter parks, they are very dangerous due to downed branches and other hazards. Parks Staff and NYPD are working hard to secure the parks, please do not remove police tape or barriers.”

In Central Park, 250 mature trees were felled in the storm, according to the Central Park Conservancy. Conservancy workers are in there starting to clean up, but I checked in with the conservancy and it doesn’t sound like they’re currently asking for outside volunteers. The Marathon is still scheduled to happen on Sunday.

“The Park remains closed, and CPC staff are assessing and responding to damage as they have been since the storm began. We are working to make the Park safe for visitors when all NYC parks re-open, as well as for the Marathon this coming Sunday,” spokesperson Dena Libner wrote to us. “In terms of damage, at first glance the Park lost approximately 250 mature trees. As we continue our assessment, that number will undoubtedly grow. There was additional and significant damage to Park infrastructure, including benches and fencing.”

The conservancy’s full statement from yesterday is at the bottom of this story.

People continue running in Riverside Park, but officials are still warning everyone to stay out. The bicycle greenway is also apparently still closed in that area. One bicyclist wrote: “West Side Greenway passable from Houston to 59th, blocked off at 59th. Proceed with caution.” Another said: “Bike path down the West Side is closed from just above the Boat Basin to 59th Street. Route down Riverside Blvd and then cut back out.”

Upper West Sider Vivian Matz wrote that there is concern in Riverside park about “flooding of Amtrak tunnel/potential collapse of infrastructure.”

The Central Park Conservancy sent out the following notice:

“Thank you to everyone who has sent supportive comments over the last few days! Conservancy staff have been hard at work following Hurricane Sandy. Staff have focused first on clearing transverse roads and preparing areas related to the ING New York City Marathon, scheduled for this Sunday, November 4. Areas on the perimeter are also being prioritized. Today, hanging limbs were removed along Fifth Avenue. [On Wednesday] staff will focus on the East Drive and Central Park West, where downed trees are blocking paths.

Currently, 250 matures are estimated to have been uprooted or compromised. Our staff has not yet been able to survey the Park’s interior, so the total number is likely to be higher. There has been significant damage to Park infrastructure, including benches and fencing.As our staff continues to clear debris and remove damaged limbs and uprooted trees, Central Park, and all New York City parks, remain closed until further notice. Please remain out of the Park so that our staff can clean up as safely and quickly as possible.”
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