Stringer: L.E.S. playgrounds need repairs

BY ALEJANDRA O’CONNELL-DOMENECH | The Lower East Side is filled with hazardous playgrounds, according to a newly study released by Comptroller Scott Stringer.

The report, “State of Play: A New Model of NYC Playgrounds,” states that 13, or 25 percent, of the playgrounds in Community District 3 were found “unacceptable” by the Parks Department inspection program. Along with the East Village and Lower East Side, the board district includes Two Bridges and parts of Chinatown.

A playground deemed unacceptable could have broken equipment, loose equipment or broken pavement. The ratings were “largely driven by issues of cleanliness,” though, according to a Stringer’s representative.

The report identifies Priority 1 hazards, which “present the chance of life-threatening or debilitating injury,” and Priority 2 Hazards, which “present the chance of slight or moderate injury.

In C.B. 3, the trees at Nathan Straus Playground, at Rivington and Clinton Sts., and the play equipment at Baruch Playground, near E. Houston St. and the F.D.R. Drive, were deemed Priority 1 hazards.

Comptroller Scott Stringer’s playgrounds report cited the play equipment at Baruch Playground — whose basketball court is pictured above — as a Priority 1 hazard. (Courtesy NYC Parks)

The report also states that 23 playgrounds in the district were found to have an issue, such as graffiti, litter, fences, pavement or play equipment, that requires “immediate attention.”

Manhattan had the second-highest number of unacceptable playgrounds in the city. According to the report, Brooklyn playground conditions are the worst, with 24 percent of that borough’s playgrounds deemed “unacceptable.”

At Nathan Straus Playground, trees were cited as Priority 1 hazard. (Courtesy NYC Parks)

The data used in Stringer’s report is from March through October of last year. According to a Parks Department representative, all of the cited hazardous conditions in the Lower East Side playgrounds have since been fixed.

In connection with the report, Stringer called for the creation of 200 new playgrounds over the next five years to combat a disparity the study found between the number of children and playgrounds. In 15 community districts, there are fewer than seven playgrounds for every 10,000 children, the study found.

On the Lower East Side, new playgrounds can’t come soon enough there for Daisy Paez, the Democratic District Leader for the 65th Assembly District, Part B. It’s especially true now, she said, since the city’s coastal-resiliency plans for East River Park call for burying it under a layer of new soil and then rebuilding the park, its playgrounds and sports fields on top.

Paez said playgrounds and parks are particularly important for lower-income communities.

With a family of nine children, her parents did not have the means to take vacations, she said. Instead, the family turned to public spaces — like East River Park, along the F.D.R. Drive — to relax.

“F.D.R. Park was my Disney World,” she said.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *