By West Side Rag Editorial Staff
A significant portion of the Great Lawn in Central Park will be closed to the public until at least April, 2024, following “damage” from the Global Citizen Festival that took place at the end of September, according to Upper West Side Councilmember Gale Brewer.
“The combination of heavy rain, foot traffic, and machinery used for staging destroyed one-third of the Great Lawn,” Brewer wrote in a letter to Mayor Eric Adams. “The Central Park Conservancy determined the extent of the damage necessitates immediate closure of the lawn for re-seeding. As a result, 12-acres of public greenspace will be unavailable to New Yorkers until April 2024 or later, all to accommodate a one-day event.”
Brewer also “urged” the mayor and Parks Department Commissioner Sue Donoghue to find a venue other than Central Park to host the annual festival. This year’s festival happened on a very rainy September 23, which added to the damage.
“I have never been a fan of the Global Citizen Festival,” Brewer added.
Tens of thousands of Global Citizen Festival-goers packed the soggy Great Lawn at the end of September to listen to the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Lauryn Hill and more. It also rained between four and five inches in Central Park on the days following the concert.
“This year’s rainfall meant closer alignment with city agencies and stakeholders than ever before,” a spokesperson for Global Citizen told the West Side Rag. “In the months leading up to the festival on September 23, and daily in the week before the event, we worked closely with the NYC Mayor’s Office, NYC Department of Parks & Recreation, Office of Emergency Management, NYPD, FDNY and the Central Park Conservancy. Ultimately, the City of New York, the Department of Parks and Recreation, and the Central Park Conservancy, determined that this year’s festival should go ahead.”
The Global Citizen spokesperson added that the organization will work with the Central Park Conservancy “to assess and cover the costs of any damage, and we remain committed to fulfilling those obligations, as we have since 2012.”
A spokesperson from the Central Park Conservancy said the organization was “very disappointed” to be shuttering the Great Lawn section this fall.
“The use of heavy equipment and intense foot traffic in the saturated conditions from the September 23 concert damaged a large portion of the lawn and fully destroyed a third of it,” the Central Park Conservancy spokesperson said. “Our team is now working to restore the lawn, hopefully in time to reopen this spring.”
It is worth noting that the Great Lawn does close normally from mid-to-late November through April to let the lawn rest each year, but the green space had to be shuttered immediately following the Global Citizen concert on September 23 — meaning that New Yorkers are missing out on close to two months of Great Lawn access during the beloved fall season in the park.
You can subscribe to WSR’s free email newsletter here.