NEW YORK — City Comptroller John C. Liu recently announced that a series of borough-specific audits found the Parks Department was slow to fix hazardous conditions in some playgrounds and may have missed others in its regular inspections.
Although Parks generally inspected playgrounds as required, in many instances the agency didn’t fix problems, including rusted and broken equipment, even after they were flagged for repair.
“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.
The Parks Department randomly inspects 205 playgrounds every two weeks, and each site in the city is usually inspected twice a year. Inspection reports are forwarded to Parks Department staff for review and correction of unacceptable conditions.
Hazardous conditions such as protruding bolts and broken or damaged equipment or benches are supposed to be repaired within two to four weeks. Parks inspectors then revisit those playgrounds to verify whether the problems have been corrected.
Auditors inspected 107 playgrounds in all five boroughs in July 2011. At many locations, they found problems were still present months after Parks’ own inspections had brought them to light.
Auditors inspected 30 playgrounds in Brooklyn in July 2011.
At the Fox Playground, between Avenue H and Avenue I and East 54th and East 55th streets, auditors found badly damaged benches with missing slats and peeling paint on July 14, 2011, but there was no mention of them in the Parks Department inspection report filed one day earlier.
At the Hickman Playground, Veterans Avenue between East 66th and East 68th streets, a Parks Department inspection reported on April 1, 2011, that safety mats were no longer attached and uplifting, but auditors found the problem persisted 104 days later.
At the Homecrest Playground, Shore Parkway and Williams Court, a Parks Department inspection report in December 2010 noted safety mats were no longer attached and uplifting. In July 2011, 279 days later, auditors found the problem had yet to be fixed.
The Parks Department, in its response, said it would “prioritize repairs depending on the severity of these conditions” and will make “the best effort to address outstanding items, which is dependent on existing resources and materials as well as the availability of manpower.” However, it disagreed over whether certain hazards were not corrected in a timely manner.