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Danger in city parks: $20 million paid out in 10 years in injury claims

Comptroller Stringer wants Parks Dept. to use his "Claimstat" report to make changes

Hot mats that burn kids are frequently cited in claims against city parks.

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The number of New Yorkers suing the city over playground injuries has climbed 53% in 10 years, costing taxpayers $20 million, a new report reveals.

And it’s not just kids flying off those rotating metal saucers that made big news several months back after parks officials suddenly removed several -- or welded them in place.

Settlements and judgments are being paid out for everything from protruding nails to broken glass and defective swings, Comptroller Scott Stringer’s data-driven Claimstat survey found.

The majority of the suits cite “improper surfacing.” That can be anything from missing or defecting matting, to those infamous rubber mats that heat up beneath the scorching summer sun and burn kids’ exposed skin.

Two parks tied for the most number of claims (7 each) -- Mullally Park Playground in the Bronx and the McNair Playground in Manhattan. Union Square Park in Manhattan, Stroud and Slope Park playgrounds in Brooklyn, and Juniper Valley Park in Queens tied for second, each with 6 claims.

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Here are some specifics:
-- In Union Square Park, the 6-foot steel dome that kids love to climb on was cited in four complaints.
-- Climbing equipment like the dome and monkey bars account for 10% of the claims.
-- In Mullaly, parents complained about cracked sidewalks, the spinning wheel, and the sprinkler.

BY THE NUMBERS

577 claims
filed between Fiscal ‘05-Fiscal ‘14
209 in Brooklyn
123 in Manhattan

111 in The Bronx
111 in Queens
23 in Staten Island

$20.64 million
paid out in that period

45 claims
filed in Fiscal ‘05
69 claims
filed in Fiscal ‘14
53%
the jump in annual claims

“As a father of two young children, I know firsthand how important safety is on our playgrounds, both to keep our kids out of harm’s way and to reduce risk to City taxpayers,” Stringer said Sunday in making the report public.

“With claims at their highest point in a decade, it’s clear that the Department of Parks and Recreation must find ways to improve safety in our City’s playgrounds. We owe it to our kids to adopt best practices for safety and install state-of-the-art equipment in our playgrounds that reduces the potential for injuries.”

The full report is availableonline on Stringer’s websiteand includeshyper-detailed maps with park-specific datathat Stringer wants Park officials to use to help drive down the number of claims.

 
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