Play nice: Report says NYC playgrounds damaged, deserted
There’s a rumble over New York City playgrounds.
Embattled City Comptroller John Liu released a new report Thursday that accuses the Parks Department of being dangerously slow in fixing hazardous problems in New York City parks.
According to Liu, the Parks Department is supposed to randomly inspect 205 playgrounds every two weeks and every park should be inspected twice a year. Hazardous conditions like protruding bolts, broken or damaged equipment are required to be repaired within two to four weeks, Liu said.
But when auditors checked 107 random playgrounds in July of last year, they found equipment was still damaged months after the problems were reported, the report says.
“Parents shouldn’t have to worry about their children playing on broken equipment or near rat holes – especially after Parks’ own inspectors have already reported the hazards,” Liu said.
Geoffrey Croft, president of NYC Park Advocates, a non-profit watchdog group dedicated to the city’s parks, said that the comptroller’s findings were just the “tip of the iceberg.”
Croft said he frequently finds crack viles, used condoms and rusty equipment in New York City playgrounds.
“Children’s safety should be the number one priority,” Croft said. “Something has to be done. Even when dangerous things are reported, they’re not being fixed promptly.”
A Parks Department spokesperson fired back at Liu, calling elements of the report “misleading.”
In many cases, the spokesman argued, conditions noted in the original inspection were fully fixed but then reoccurred.
Comptroller Liu’s campaign finances are currently the subject of an FBI investigation and both his campaign treasurer and a top fundraiser have been arrested.
Liu’s report lists repairs to playgrounds that he says the Parks Department did not address in a timely manner:
Tompkins Square Park
Auditors found a rat infestation next to the playground in July that was not mentioned in Parks Department inspectors’ reports filed in April and May 2011.
Dry Dock Playground, East 10 Street and Avenue D
Parks inspectors found protruding cobblestones caused safety mats to dislodge, creating a tripping hazard on December 2, 2010. When auditors visited 207 days later, in July 2011, the problem hadn’t been fixed and had grown worse.
East River Playground, FDR Drive and East 106th Street
Auditors found that bolts were missing from a wooden slat in a ramp used by children, a hazard not listed in a Parks inspectors’ February report.
Hammel Playground, Rockaway Beach Boulevard, between Beach 84th and Beach 81st streets
Auditors’ inspection in July 2011 found a dangerously protruding metal bracket at the entrance that was not mentioned in the Parks inspection two months earlier.
Soundview Playground, Bronx River at Lafayette Avenue
Parks inspectors reported rotted and splintered playground equipment on March 28, 2011 and when auditors inspected the playground 106 days, they found conditions unchanged.
For more local news, follow Emily Anne Epstein on Twitter @EmilyAEpstein.