Southern Brooklyn

MBNA: Ban BBQing On Manhattan Beach Now!


Traffic safety, property taxes and public transportation all came up at last night’s Manhattan Beach Neighborhood Association meeting, but the issue that had the membership most fired up was charcoal grilling in the Manhattan Beach park.

The group voted unanimously to send letters to city agencies demanding that barbecuing be banned and the charcoal pits uprooted from the park, a move that would eliminate one of the borough’s seven parks that legally allow grills, and one of only two in Southern Brooklyn.

The vote was made after the group’s president, Dr. Alan Ditchek, an internal medicine and infectious disease specialist, brought up a recent study linking airborne particulate matter with elevated incidents of stroke.

“I would like to question the city, who wants to legislate against smoking at the beach or smoking outdoors, how could they possibly allow the continuation of barbecue grills here on Manhattan Beach, jeopardizing the health of not only the residents of Manhattan Beach, but everyone on the beach, and everyone in the playground, and everyone on the ballfield,” Ditchek said in front of an audience of about a dozen residents. “If this study mentions particulate matter and risk of stroke – proven risk of stroke – then the city better get down here and shut down these barbecue grills as soon as possible.”

Ditchek presented to the group an article from the current issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association, which argues that air pollution – and concentrated particulate matter, especially – elevates a population’s risk of stroke. That’s in addition to previous studies that connect it to cardiovascular and pulmonary illnesses, as well as cancer. Even short-term exposure could drastically increase stroke risk, Ditchek pointed out, and said that elderly patients experienced an increase in stroke hospitalization on the same day of exposure to high levels of particulate matter.

The study did not mention barbecuing, but discussed overall air pollution. Ditchek did not say what defines “high levels” of particulate matter. Measurements of particulate matter around the barbecuing areas in Manhattan Beach have never been made to see how much it affects air quality.

When one resident questioned if this would lead to a ban on barbecuing in people’s private property, another MBNA member responded by saying the thousands of grills in homes across the city were a “small amount” compared to the handful in city parks. Ditchek explained further, saying that it’s different because it’s all concentrated in one spot, and is possibly more dangerous.

“These people are burning fossil fuel – they’re burning charcoal briquettes – which actually may release more particulate matter than you can even imagine. And now just multiply that by 10 or 15 grills going at one time, and a little breeze in the air,” Ditchek said. “I know personally when I’m at the basketball court down at the park and I get a whiff of that, I start choking to death.”

The new research is adding fuel to the community’s argument that barbecuing ought to be banned for the residents’ well-being, an argument they and some members of the Manhattan Beach Community Group have been making for years.

MBNA Executive Boardmember Ron Biondo noted that they had previously asked former-Brooklyn Parks Commissioner Julius Spiegel to look into the matter, but Spiegel explained that families had a right to enjoy barbecuing at the beach. They hope to convince thew new Parks Commission Kevin Jeffrey – as well as the Department of Health – to consider a ban in the community, bolstered by the recent study. They will ask City Councilman Michael Nelson and State Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz to put pressure on the agencies.

If that comes to pass, hundreds of thousands of Brooklyn residents who live in apartment buildings or homes with no usable outdoor space, unlike that attached to most Manhattan Beach residences, will be without options to enjoy barbecuing in publicly-owned spaces. Currently, only seven Brooklyn parks permit barbecuing, and only one other in Southern Brooklyn – Kaiser Park in Coney Island. Winning a ban in Manhattan Beach could set a precedent to wipe out barbecuing in all public parks altogether.

All of those parks limit barbecuing areas to small sections of the property. In Manhattan Beach, grilling is legally confined only to the section northeast of the promenade, next to the parking lot, and also near Hastings Street.

Although the MBNA’s rival group the MBCG has its own concerns about grilling, they’re not yet ready to join them in the crusade to ban the practice. Ira Zalcman, president of the MBCG, said he preferred not to make a judgement on a ban because “it’s a decision that should be made by the community. [But] if there’s health literature, we should take that into account.” He noted that the group looked into such medical research a year or two ago, but found nothing concrete to tie instances of barbecue smoke to adverse health reactions.

More important to his group, he said, is to get the city to enforce their current rules. He said that many people bring their own barbecues and grill in areas outside of the alloted space, with dangerous high-temperature equipment smoldering where children play.

“[There are] things everywhere, and it’s where kids are running around,” he said. “That scares me.”

“Department of Parks should enforce the existing rules that they have on the books now, which is that barbecue is only allowed in the designated areas from Hastings down to the college,” Zalcman added. “They should enforce the rules.”


Comment policy


  1. This may be the dumbest argument I’ve heard…from someone not in the 3rd grade. If they want to ban people coming in from other neighborhoods in the summertime, then just say it. But the PR machine who brainstormed this idiotic idea of BBQing and Strokes….wow. Did the good Dr. not mention hamburgers and heart attacks?

  2. lol i totally agree with that. ppl are soooo disgustingly dirty…. we all know who. they leave all their crap around when they leave the place. they have no consideration for the park. they are pigs and i totally agree with any argument anyone proposes as long as it bans those ppl from coming there and eating like pigs.

  3. This is a call for an organized public grill in! We will be spreading the word in Washington heights, Bushwick and Harlem…A day of resistance against quasi private neighborhood groups trying to turn public resources like beaches into private fiefdoms! Just like they did to the promenade. Don’t want the wrong kind of people in your neighborhood? Move!

  4. I just love that a Dr. (likely an internist) went up and said “Folks, we have to stop this obscene amount of outdoor BBQing. When I play Basketball, and someone puts a hot dog down, I literally see my life flash before me.” If this Dr. was on the Debate Team, they would have him parking cars…for the debate team. Look, want to have a conversation about closing the neighborhood. Be an adult and bring it up. But, please, don’t blame this on ribs.

  5. “We all know who” Those people eh? Sounds like code for racist exclusionary policies. What’s next? Private beaches like on Long Island? The parks are for ALL.

  6. Hardly a code. I’m all for the grill-in. By the way — how many people were killed during that BBQ fest last week by St Marks? Oh wait a second…that was a money-making opportunity for businesses…not poor people.

  7. These groups do not own the parks. The City does. What gives them to right to think that they can speak for the entire city?

  8. I sat through that meeting and it could be summed up seven words.

    “Stay the fuck out of our beach.”

    I’ve never been in such an unwelcoming delusional place.

    These people believe that the beach belongs to them and to them alone. Screw the rest of the city. Mike Nelson actually laughed at their claims that all of NYC comes to “their” beach and tried to point out that Coney Island actually gets about 10x the use. One women sitting near me said, “Let THEM go there.”

    Part of the meeting that Ned hasn’t posted yet was the complaint that the residents of Manhattan Beach were subsiding the other parts of the city, while their needs were being ignored and their parks raped by the residents of other areas. Yeah. Right. Manhattan Beach is certainly in worse shape than say, Willet’s Point or Geritssen Beach or Coney Island or Sheepshead Bay.

    This issue has nothing to do with barbecue. They want the beach to themselves and will do anything they can to make a trip to Manhattan Beach as uncomfortable and unwelcoming as possible.

  9. as someone who lives across the water from those snobs, i’d like to let loose with all the vulgar words that my dad once told me I could only say if it was really the appropriate way to respond. But I’ll hold my tongue here.
    I say the city agrees to their request to ban bar-b-q-ing. But in return, all their streets become totally open to parking 365 days a year, no restriction. And, let’s open up a few strip clubs in Manhattan Beach too, I need some adult entertainment within walking distance.

  10. Not a matter of rich vs poor its just too much you can float on the smoke on weekends.Small area and after there is garbage is everywhere.I think that all people have the right to live in peace and come out of theri homes and use beach and promenade it has gotten out of hand.This is an expensive area people homes worked hard to purchase Just find it distasteful how outsiders are treating this lovely park.Yes please stop the BBQ in manhattan beach

  11. There are six other locations nearby and I’m there all the time plenty of cars and vans no ones on foot.Noone is arguing thats is a public beach but just because you like to grill I have to walk over piles of garbage and keep away from all the smoke and very loud music.Thats not fair to others its a beach not a club

  12. Are you arguing with a doctor? If he says characoal’s a fossil fuel…….

    I shall remind myself never to seek his medical services. Sounds like a quack doctor to me.

  13. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Manhattan Beach is full of idiots. We should ban giving them a voice on this site. If this passes, I vow to vandalize that neighborhood. VOW!

  14. I agree it is disgusting when there is a lot of garbage and broken bottles at the beach …but that’s why the cops have to spend less time in Donkin Donuts drinking their free coffee and more time handing tickets to those who pollute our beaches …this can be a win-win situation …people can grill and keep the beach clean at the same time !

  15. Outsider? This is not a “Manhattan Beach” park, it is a NYC Park. So the city decides what is to occur there. Don’t like it, then stay north of Oriental Blvd.

  16. Shut up. Its a public beach and neighborhood receiving public funding. Until Manhattan Beach becomes a private neighborhood like Seagate, you have no argument.

    BBQing on Manhattan Beach has been around before you moved in. It’s like buying a house on Brighton Beach and complaining about all the Russians.

  17. It’s a public beach. So there are seven PUBLIC locations. Go to a beach where there is no grilling. Can you point out the near by locations BBQ is allowed???

  18. What I meant by outsider was anyone that would have no interest in keeping the beach or park clean not their neighborhood yes public beach but Brighton and coney dont allow BBQ so stay clean. enjoyed by everybody as it has always been.I’m old school brooklyn little girl and dont ever tell me to go anywhereUnless you are just used to being around excessive noise and garbarge.So if a nuisance them just remove it

  19. I am tired of the entitlement alloted to some. Their lack of interest in any thing other than me, myself and I never surpasses my expectations. Hello, there are other communities that reflect on that neighborhood and visa-versa.

  20. Before my family moved here from Park Slope it was partially private.
    I am one of those commoners they want out, but you know what I hung out in Manhattan Beach in the early 70s, and guess what…their shit stinks too.

  21. I cant believe there is even an argument that will possibly end BBQing at the park. The asinine rules and regulations everywhere we turn these days has really gotten over the fucking top. Last year I almost got arrested because apparently throwing a ball while in the ocean is against the law. I swear I almost lost my cool when two cops pulled up and told me to put down the ball or get arrested. Unfucking real

  22. Just for that I should come and shit on your lawn, giant dookie right in the middle of your pristine manicured grass. However I’m not going to do that, you know why? Because it’s your property you have a right to keep it in any condition that you like. However 1 millimeter (0.0393700787 inches for you regular folk) from where your property ends our property begins. And you know who “our” refers to? Us, everyone who you hate and want out of your neighborhood.

    Their is wooden booth on Manhattan Beach side of the Sheepshead Bay Foot Bridge. Go learn why it there and why it’s no longer being used. If it was up to MB residents it will be fully functioning again.

    Shame on you and all your neighbors.

  23. Hey Lynniegirl47, when you bought your house was their public beach next to it? Yes? The stop complaining you knew what you were buying. If you don’t like it sell it and go live on the moon. I hear their are no beaches there.

  24. Then allow the BBQ area to expand. The smoke is thick because the grilling area is so small and compact.

    As for the garbage – parks – do your job and provide enough containers that are emptied on a regular basis.

    As for pigs who litter and leave behind crap – fine them.

    As an outsider -why don’t you stay out of my neighborhood? You crowd my grocery stores, post offices and other essential services which you don’t allow in your “expensive” area. You expect to use “our” services and amenities – but don’t want us using yours?

  25. Manhattan Beachers complained from day one about everything. The public beach dates from 1954, it took years of negotiations for the city to get clear title and placate the community. But things like parking and barbecuing have always been issues. Perhaps Lynne’s family has been here since before 1954, and perhaps they have passed on their attitude about “outsiders” from one generation to another. You see, there was actually a time when Manhattan Beach was indeed a gated community like Seagate. That changed when the Maritime Training Station was erected where Kingsborough Community College is now. Some people hold grudges forever.

  26. I think Dr. Alan Ditchek is participating in this “study” and needs to get an attention of the City Agencies:-)lol
    Guys, let’s stop smoke, drink alcohol, eat eggs (cholesterol), eat meat (hormones), use cell phones (electromagnetic waves), use electricity (also electromagnetic waves from the power lines plus the possible safety issues), drive cars (accidents), use airplanes (accidents and terrorists), breath (dangerous elements in the air and Global Warming problem)… I do not think Ned has enough hosting space for his blog, so I can tell everything what we do not have to do…
    Dr. Alan Ditchek, I wish you live in Soviet Union at last for few years…, so You start to understand what you are talking about.
    And… I am sure you voted for Barak Obama, Chuck Shumer and Anthony Weiner… :-)lol Am I wrong?

  27. They’ve already succeeded in gating off the Esplanade. They’ll eventualy figure out how to do the same with the beach itself.

  28. I am assuming you are one of the few people that actually agrees with this. Allow me to put something in Perspective for you.
    – Some people cannot afford to purchase expensive property on the OVERPRICED area like Manhattan Beach.
    – A lot of people like to BBQ and cannot find a way to get to various OTHER parks around the area.
    – As it is illegal to BBQ on the street without a permit, parks should remain legal for BBQing. If residents of Manhattan beach are so pissed off about BBQing on “their” public beach (note the word PUBLIC), they should also NOT BBQ in their own back yard. G-d forbid they get sick from the “toxic” smoke. (note that I am referring to the future smoking at home ban)
    – Unlike the various number of other problems in the area, i.e. Never ending potholes, the lack of dog-walk areas (yes I know that there is a small area allocated for that), the lack of parking during the summer weekends. All of these are problems. BBQing should be the last one.
    – Oh and if the residents of Manhattan beach are so ticked off about everything that people try to do there, they should just put in GATES, armed guards, etc. to forbid other residents of BROOKLYN to go there.

    Enough said?

  29. If you think that Brighton Beach is actually clean you need a reality check.
    Go there and walk from Brighton 15th to Ocean Parkway and see where the people actually are and how “Clean” it is.

  30. If they ban BBQing at the beach, then I hope they also ban private homes from BBQing within a block of the beach, as the wind can carry the smoke from their grills to the beach. Actually, it may be safer to ban homes from BBQing within three blocks, because who knows how much particulate matter is still in the air before it fully dissipates.

  31. I’ve heard 2 rumors through the years, don’t know if they’re true, but I’ll float them here:
    1. Manhattan Beach tried to throw West End Avenue out of its “neighborhood”, I assume because WE Avenue is not rich enough.
    2. Manhattan Beach has always tried to get rid of the walk bridge, and in fact has subjected it to several incidents of vandalism.

  32. I say we get a group of us “common folk”, and, like, just hang out in Manhattan Beach. Walk up and down the streets, maybe raise the voices a little. Have a big Bar-b-q too, complete with stinky sausages (I hate that smell but I’ll take one for the team). Let’s pick a day where the wind is from the south. Gosh I can’t stand those people. There’s old riche, nouveau riche, then there’s just plain rotten riche. I’ve met plenty of wealthy people, and very few of them fit into the Manhattan Beach mindset. That neighborhood is one of a kind. Hey, speaking of where to hold the terrorist trials……

  33. My understanding is that the MBNA does not consider West End Avenue as part of their area of representation. This may date back to when Manhattan Beach was a gated community prior to 1940.

    Austin Corbin, who owned much of the land in Manhattan Beach, and built the Manhattan Beach and the Oriental Hotels, erected the original bridge. A year later he attempted to close it. When Sheepshead Bay residents removed the obstacles and continued to use it he burned it. Gravesend rebuilt the bridge, and Austin burned it again. Responding to public outcry town supervisor John McKane actually threatened Corbin with arrest if he continued to sabotage the bridge. Since Corbin and McKane were pals, this effectively ended serious attempts at vandalism.

  34. Yes there is a “staff” and they do an excellent job of cleaning up after the slobs every night (during the season), except for the glass– which is not supposed to be on the beach anyway! Why is it so hard for people to use the garbage cans- if you brought it to the beach you can take it to the cans- NOT SUCH A HARD THING TO DO!

  35. Austin Corbin wanted the area closed to keep Jews out. That’s why Corbin Place is no longeer named after him.

  36. That was part of it. But Austin showed animosity towards residents of Sheepshead Bay, which in his time was a village consisting of residents mostly of English, Dutch and Irish descent. He wasn’t too keen about having a bunch of fishermen mingling with the wealthy clientele his hotels catered to.

    I knew one of his descendants. She was a snob of the worst kind. She may have been the last of the Corbins.

  37. The comments are unfortunate. grilling is a family activity that many including myself enjoy. As a matter of fact I can remember as a child going to Manhattan Beach with my family to participate in this activity. I never thought about the people’s homes on Oriental Blvd in close proximity to the beach. It was not on my radar. I was a kid having fun with the family. I do remember that when we left, we made absolutely sure that we cleaned up 100%. We even brought our own additional trash bags. We appreciated this beautiful resource which was a bus ride away from home. THis was the late 1960’s. As time went by, more and more was learned about the dangers of smoking and as a result the areas where you can smoke has been greatly reduced. In the beginning restaurant and bar owners complaigned, now it is a fact of life and the areas where smoking is permitted continues to decrease. No one suggested that banning smoking from bars, restaurants, pool halls, etc would keep certain people out, it was done purely for health reasons. Unfortunately the same thing now applies to the BBQ’s on MB. I do not live in close proximity to the beach and therefore it really does not affect me personally. However I have many friends that live on Oriental Blvd that have indicated that it is a problem when the beach is very crowded. I also have had many neighbors from Manhattan Beach and neighbors from Sheepshead Bay / Brighton Beach complain that they cannot used the playground with their children on certain days because of it. Finally, I did experience it personally myself last year when I was involved in a charity softball @ the Manhattan Beach baseball field to benefit Autism Speaks. THere were a few people using the grills and it was a minor issue. It wasn’t the end of the world since we only played softball for a couple of hours. However, if I was in close proximity to the grilling area, I would have a concern.
    I personally BBQ in my backyard 12 months a year but I use a gas grill and I use it for no more than 30 minute intervals.

  38. dr.ditchek!where on earth did you get this line of bull that we can get a stroke from the smoke that comes from barb b q ing?answer please!i think humans have been burning and smoking meats and fish since the year far as smoke bothering prople living across from the grilling .i live directly across the street from the park.i sometimes salavate frme the smell but being bothered [noooo way] i live on the ocean block directly in the midle and no homes across from me.dear dr.i understand you live a fiew blocks from here so why are you complaining ?the russians,hispanics,blacks,and other minority should have a place to enjoy a day with friends and family as our generations did in the past.dear dr. these people are working people and i’m sure don’t have facilities to bbq as we do.dear doctor or mister money bags with what you’v been fortunite enough to have been able to have been raised where you were able to become a docter lets give the less fortunite a break–if there are others who agree with you then all i can say is followers without hearts!

  39. Why did they decide last year to place all the garbage cans in a cluster at only two locations on the beach? So Parks can have an easier time of picking up the garbage, no to make it easier for everyone. People don’t want to drag their garbage 200 feet to a garbage can. Put them back where they were before. Maybe this is why the beach is dirtier.

  40. If the people on Ocean Avenue directly near the barbeques don’t have a problem with the grills, why should those on Oriental Blvd who are much further away have a problem? I really don’t think the grills are the problem. It is just an excuse to keep people from coming to the beach and park.

  41. The beach was no dirtier with the cluster of cans then when they were all over. People would use them to lean or sit on, and still threw their bottles and garbage on the beach. Most people don’t care about the next person or obviously about themselves, they are just lazy SLOBS!

  42. That is your opinion and you have lived in the community much longer. I however respectfully disagree. It may indeed be true for some but it is unlikely true for all

  43. THis is clearly a health issue which was reported in the JAMA. Although it does not bother you directly it does bother many others. I go to the church on your block and I have heard complaints from parishioners after Mass. I also have friends on the Ocean block of Ocean Avenue that complaign as well. The point here is it may bother some and not bother others. But when it is clearly a health hazzard and it prevents many familes from MB and other communities from using the playground with their young children, the issue should be addressed.

  44. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I was under the impression that the designated grill location is only near Hastings and not near Ocean Avenue. I thought the permitted location was reduced a few years back. If people are grilling near Ocean Avenue and that is a location where grilling is not technically allowed, then you can see the point.

  45. That’s not true. On a busy weekend by Sunday night the baskets are usually overflowing because they are not emptied. If people were such slobs you wouldn’t see large piles of garbage right around the base of the can. You can’t put garbage in the can when there is no room for it.

  46. There are two grilling areas. The one you speak of near Hastings east of the Men’s Bathroom and the one on the other side west of the Women’s Bathroom. That one stretches all the way to Ocean Avenue.

    If it is not just another excuse to keep people coming to the beach and park what is the reason for the summer no parking regulations?

  47. I Agree with this notion.

    it’s very Family like to bring your kids to the beach grill up some chicken! and have a great time…

    now we’ll have to go to the nearest kaka store and buy already made food to bring there…. well i say HELL NO!

  48. I do not know it was before my time. It is a PIA whenever I have company or if I want to have a family party. I honestly did not know their were still two designated locations. I will look into this further.

  49. The only difference between Ditchek and Hitler is that Hitler admitted he was racist… Ditchek is no better than a skinhead! How would he feel if African American and Hispanic doctors and scientists came up with a study that said people that complain too much should not be allowed in Brooklyn?

  50. Oh my Godwin…

    Please don’t compare people to Hitler or Nazi’s on my website. You don’t agree with Ditchek? Fine. But don’t be ridiculous.

  51. […] The proposal to ban barbecuing on Manhattan Beach is being pushed by the MBNA because they say it is detrimental to residents’ health, but the president of the MBCG, Ira Zalcman, believes that the MBNA is proposing the ban for all the wrong reasons. Zalcman previously argued before his group that the MBNA’s position is mired in racism and discrimination, as they have a “history of wanting to privatize the beach.” […]


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