NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- One of Brooklyn's largest green spaces looked like a wasteland on Monday.
Visitors to Prospect Park were outraged to find garbage littered in an open field, CBS2's Jessica Layton reported.
"Unbelievable. I've never seen anything like it. It's like a dumpster pulled up and dumped things in the park. It's crazy," Prospect Lefferts Park resident Cynthia Nelson said.
Nelson's daily walk with her dog, "Sugar," was spoiled by the mess on the lawn in the Nethermead area, which included countless discarded beer bottles, liquor bottles, paper bags, and containers of food.
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There were the kind of unsanitary conditions you'd expect to see after a huge concert or festival, not from a get-together at a popular community park. The city Parks Department said the mess was the result of an illegal party on Sunday night. The Nethermead area is normally a hot spot for parties and picnics.
Video of the party sent to CBS2 by a viewer shows a lack of social distancing and he said many people were not wearing masks.
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The Parks Department said it wasn't alerted to this issue until Monday morning. A spokesperson said in a time of COVID-19 and significant budget cuts, including the loss of 1,700 seasonal staff members this summer, illegal gatherings are causing major safety challenges.
Brooklyn Parks Commissioner Martin Maher said his bare-bones staff worked for hours Monday cleaning up the mess.
"They're not wearing the mask. They're not maintaining social distance. That puts people in jeopardy. But then they're not cleaning up, so there's litter everywhere. They're not even making an effort to bag it and bring it to the road or where the receptacles are, so that just makes the park worse for everybody," Maher said.
The overall message from officials is to respect the green spaces in the city, especially during a pandemic. They are true gems in the city, some of the few places where people can gather safely right now.
"People that find out about illegal parties shouldn't attend them," Maher said. "We also ask the people take the garbage with you. Bring it out to the road. Bring it out to a receptacle. We'll collect it. We'll pick it up. Don't leave it all over the field. That's just not right."
"Your mom doesn't work here. She's not coming to pick it up," Nelson added.
Officials urge if you do witness illegal gatherings or people leaving a mess behind, please call 311.
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