NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Most New Yorkers need a Polish language translator to understand what’s written across some storefronts along Nassau Avenue in the Greenpoint section of Brooklyn.
In one very public place, the Polish language suddenly went from widespread to wiped out, scrubbed from official signs that ring McGolrick Park, reports CBS2’s Dave Carlin.
“I have no idea why they would do that,” said Janet Hayes. “I don’t know.”
Eight new New York City Parks Department signs omit Polish, which had been on the old ones for decades. Only one of the old ones remain with the Polish intact, attached with old rusted wires to the fence.
The shiny new ones have the Polish gone and Yiddish added.
“That’s got to be corrected,” said Hayes.
Residents of Polish descent want the words of their culture back, saying they can share the sign with the Yiddish by adding it to blank space.
In these parts, the Polish language is prevalent when someone needs help finding a missing person. For example, the flyers are in Polish.
Elsewhere in the city, it’s common to find various languages on parks signs.
Goeffrey Croft of the watchdog group New York City Park Advocates says it makes sense when you want people to follow rules and regulations you should spell them out in different ways.
“The least we can do is install signs that represent the rich cultural neighborhoods that New York City is famous for,” he said.
In the McGolrick Park case, Croft says it could just be an administrative error. The city may be using census data to pick languages, so at McGolrick, if the wider district used included both Greenpoint and Williamsburg, Polish gets unintentionally left out.
“It’s insulting, but it’s a very, very easy fix,” he said.
New York City Councilmember Stephen Levin, who represents much of Greenpoint and Williamsburg, wrote a letter to Parks Department officials demanding a do-over for all the signs “as soon as possible.”
The councilman’s office says he has not heard back.