Why is Central Park’s Great Lawn closed until April after the rain-drenched Global Citizen Festival?

Bad news for nature lovers and New Yorkers looking to enjoy Central Park’s iconic Great Lawn this fall. The Central Park Conservancy has announced that the 12-acre Great Lawn will be closed to the public until April due to extensive damage caused during last month’s rain-soaked Global Citizen Festival.

The Central Park Conservancy expressed its disappointment in a statement released today, saying, “The Central Park Conservancy is very disappointed that the iconic Great Lawn is now closed and unavailable for New Yorkers to enjoy 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. Our team is now working to restore the lawn, hopefully in time to reopen this spring.”

The annual Global Citizen Festival, attended by about 30,000 people, is a major fundraising event for Global Citizen, an anti-poverty organization. Despite heavy rain, half of the usual audience size showed up to enjoy performances by the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Lauryn Hill, and others.

Normally, the Great Lawn is roped off from the public during the winter and early-spring months for maintenance. However, the damage caused by the concert has prompted an early closure of about six weeks. The New York Times reports that the repairs could cost up to $1 million.

The city’s Parks Department also released a statement, acknowledging the frustration of New Yorkers but expressing confidence that the damages will be quickly remedied. Global Citizen responded to the closure news by stating that they had closely worked with city officials to determine whether the event should proceed this year.

In their statement, Global Citizen said, “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.

Global Citizen also emphasized their commitment to assessing and covering the costs of any damage, as they have done since 2012, in addition to the fee paid to the City every year for the use of the Park. They remain dedicated to fulfilling their obligations and working with the Central Park Conservancy.

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