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Central Park's iconic Great Lawn closed until spring due to storm, Global Citizen Festival damage

Central Park's iconic Great Lawn closed until next year
Central Park's iconic Great Lawn closed until next year 02:19

NEW YORK - Some critics are calling on a major annual concert to be moved out of Central Park next year after the park's Great Lawn was damaged by crowds combined with heavy rain. 

The Great Lawn is now closed until at least next spring. 

As CBS New York's Natalie Duddridge reported, there was perfect fall weather Tuesday to relax in the Great Lawn, but you can't step foot on it for at least the next six months. Signs say it's closed due to weather and maintenance after last week's storms and Global Citizen Festival concert damaged the lawn. 

Despite a torrential downpour, tens of thousands of people turned up to see Global Citizen Sept. 23, headlined by Lauryn Hill and Red Hot Chili Peppers. 

"It's very special to see that in this venue, but is it worth the extra month of closure during peak fall conditions?" Koby Caplan said. 

"The issue is Global Citizen Festival is there on a torrential rain day," City Councilmember Gale Brewer said. 

Photos sent by Brewer's office of the park in the days following the festival and record breaking rain. 

Central Park's iconic Great Lawn was closed due to damage from the Global Citizen Festival and torrential rains.  CBS2

"Yeah, muddy. Full muddy," one food vendor said.   

The Central Park Conservancy, a non-profit that manages the park contracted by the city, said the use of heavy equipment and intense foot traffic damaged a third of the Great Lawn. 

"One day of concert does not make sense when they ruin the Great Lawn. They ruined it for tens of thousands of New Yorkers," Brewer said. 

Brewer said she'd like to see the concert, which has been held in Central Park for 11 years, be relocated to a stadium, or arena. 

"I am cool with that. Keep the lawn open. I don't care. I don't care where the concert is," parkgoer Matthew Davison said. "I train people out here. We come, play, frisbee, spikeball, soccer. We just hang out. This is our refuge. This is our green space."

Global Citizen responded in a statement, pointing out the Great Lawn is already closed to the public every winter from November to April for regular maintenance, and that each year they pay for all costs associated with damages, in addition to the fee paid to the city of the use of the park. 

A Global Citizen Festival spokesperson had this statement: 

The Global Citizen Festival has taken place in Central Park for the last 11 years in close collaboration with the City of New York, its agencies, and the Central Park Conservancy. 

We are incredibly grateful to call New York City and Central Park the home of our movement, which has seen $43.6 billion deployed to end extreme poverty, impacting 1.3 billion lives around the world. 

This year's rainfall meant closer alignment with City agencies and stakeholders than ever before. 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. 

In addition to the fee paid to the City each year for use of the Park, Global Citizen works 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.

When asked about it Tuesday, Mayor Eric Adams had this to say. 

"We're not looking to damage the lawns. The parks belong to the people," Adams said. 

The Central Park Conservancy said they are working to restore and reseed the lawn, hoping it will be open by the spring. 

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