NEW YORK (PIX11) — When you think of the New York City skyline, tall buildings probably come to mind, but in Morningside Park, a waterfall is what stops people in their tracks.
For more than four years now, the water has stopped flowing. Brad Taylor runs the volunteer advocacy group that helps care for the park. He said the lack of circulating water has led to algae build-up in the pond and that he can never determine when it will be fixed.
“The reason for the pumps not working has never really been clear to us. They say one pump broke and then the other one. And that they couldn’t get the parts, but it’s been so long now. We would like to see results,” said Taylor, the president of Friends of Morningside Park.
In 2018, the Parks Department did some restoration work, but the waterfall broke down shortly after. And it hasn’t fully worked since.
Residents have grown so tired of waiting that a petition calling on the city’s Parks Department to make repairs has more than 2,000 signatures and counting. Some worry the murky water is hazardous for the turtles, birds and other animals that go in the pond, as well as the dogs and children who visit.
“This park is like my backyard. This is a valuable local place that we all love to come to. We are so grateful to have it, and we are trying to keep it as nice as it could possible be,” said Sheridan Bartlett, who started the petition.
The waterfall has historical significance too. In the late 1960s, residents thwarted plans to demolish and replace it with a gymnasium for Columbia University students. During times of high crime in the 1980s, volunteers helped clean it up.
“I remember when I first moved here. It was terrible, awful. No one wanted to come in this park,” said Edythe Feaster, the vice president of Friends of Morningside Park.
Now decades later, the community is once again trying to save it.
“It means life for me. I used to jog around the park, and when the waterfall was there, I used to sit here in the park and look at the water. It means everything to everyone in this neighborhood,” said Feaster.
PIX11 News reached out to the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation. A spokesperson said:
We’ve made numerous repairs to the waterfall over the years and are investigating the cause of the waterfall failures. We will make a plan of action based on these findings.
The pond has had harmful algae blooms since 2016, and though the waterfall may have made the pond appear less green to people, the waterfall did not eliminate or control the blooms. Increased temperatures, nutrients in NYC tap water, and animal waste contribute to the blooms.Department of Parks and Recreation’s spokesperson