Officials Earlier Said Entire Park Would Be Off-Limits To Public

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Nearby residents of Prospect Park can breathe easy.

Only portions of the park will be closed Friday when President Barack Obama arrives to visit a Brooklyn high school, the Prospect Park Alliance announced Thursday night.

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Earlier, officials said the entire park would be off-limits to the public, which caused a stir among regular parkgoers.

“Please note that only portions of Prospect Park will not be accessible on Friday, October 25 during the President’s visit,” the Prospect Park Alliance said in a message on its website. “The closure will not affect the entire park. We apologize for the inconvenience and any confusion associated with earlier messages.”

The closures will take place from noon to 6 p.m. “due to security associated with the president’s visit,” the Prospect Park Alliance said earlier Thursday. The president’s helicopter will reportedly land at the park.

As an accommodation to those inconvenienced by the closure of Prospect Park, Brooklyn’s historic Green-Wood Cemetery announced it will open its gates to runners between the hours of 12 p.m. and 6 p.m. Friday. Jogging on cemetery grounds is otherwise prohibited.

When they believed all of Prospect Park would be closed earlier Thursday, some parkgoers said they weren’t happy. They called it security gone over the top.

“I think that’s crazy!” said Phillip Prestia, a former Marine. “I understand he’s the president. I understand his chopper has to come down. I understand he has to have a lot of security, but he doesn’t have to close the whole park.”

“It interferes with other people’s lives,” one woman told 1010 WINS’ John Montone. “That’s not right.”

“I think it’s a bit of an overreaction,” Park Slope resident Robert Caccomo told CBS 2’s Tony Aiello. “If they would shut down the area where the helicopters would land and stay that seems fine, but why they need to shut the whole park down is beyond me.”

“I don’t think it’s right, but at the end of the day it’s for his protection, so you gotta do what you gotta do,” said Park Slope resident Susan Pierre.

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But others didn’t seem to mind.

“For the president to come here, I think it’s great,” one man said.

“It’s for the president, so I’m not upset about that,” one woman said. “It’s for security reasons and I think we need to keep the president alive.”

“I think it’s worth it, I think it’s awesome, I think he’s worth it,” Park Slope resident Frances Lippette said.

“He’s the president, of course they should close the park,” said Park Slope resident Wanling Vann. “They can close it for a week as far as I’m concerned.”

“I think it’s a great thing for Brooklyn he’s coming here, going to see the high school kids, so we all have to pitch in and do our part,” resident Wes Wood added.

Obama is scheduled to visit Pathways in Technology Early College High School, which is located two miles from the park  in Crown Heights. He praised the school in his State of the Union address for its innovative program.

Obama’s visit is expected to bring traffic tie-ups in Prospect Heights, Crown Heights and other nearby neighborhoods from about 2 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.

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