Parks Department Responds To Playground Injury Lawsuit Report

Parks Department Responds To Playground Injury Lawsuit Report

A recent report by Comptroller Scott Stringer’s office found that Bensonhurst Park was among those with the greatest amount of playground injury lawsuits within a 10-year period. But the park’s problems are not limited to the playground. On a recent visit to Bensonhurst Park, we found broken benches, obstructed paths, loose bricks, and bombed out restrooms, among other hazards.

Responding to the Comptroller report and our safety concerns, the Parks Department sent us this statement:

We stand by the safety of NYC Parks’ world-class playgrounds and share the Comptroller’s concern for continuing to improve our already high standard of safe design, maintenance and inspection. Without granular data, it is difficult for NYC Parks to act upon the Comptroller’s recommendations. We look forward to working with the Comptroller’s office to gain a better understanding of the specific claims over the referenced ten-year period.

The Parks Department performs detailed and random inspections of all New York City parks in order to appraise and respond to safety and cleanliness concerns, a representative for the agency said.

The last few inspections at Bensonhurst Park – the most recent of them performed in August 2014 – deemed the park’s overall condition and cleanliness to be unacceptable, noting litter, tree stumps, and problems with paved surfaces, benches, fences, and safety surfaces, according to the agency’s website.

When it comes to tree stumps and broken benches, a Parks spokesperson said the agency uses a Daily Immediate Attention (IA) System, which monitors and resolves immediate hazards. Only authorized staff members can resolve an a hazard with the required documentation of corrected hazards. For quality assurance, the system also includes a follow-up review process that surveys a sample of resolved problems to further ensure hazards are fixed. Lastly, reports and analyses on these immediate concerns are submitted biweekly to the Borough Chiefs of Operations.

However, looking at the Parks’ inspection history, it appears that many recurring hazards, such as tree stumps and broken benches have either not been resolved, or have been resolved and then occurred again at a later date.

“Orders are prioritized by Parks in accordance with our safety and performance standards, after an evaluation of the nature of the condition and the scheduling of repair work. If any work order is deemed to be hazardous, then we work to ensure that repairs are made as quickly as possible and to, at minimum, make the area safe for the general public,” spokesperson Maeri Ferguson said.

In the wake of the comptroller’s report, the Parks Department has assigned “playground associates” for 123 citywide sites during the summer months. These associates are trained in Parks emergency protocol, which instructs them to fill out an incident report, report injuries to supervisors, and call emergency personnel if necessary.

In the meantime, the Parks Department has done away with one major playground safety pitfall across all New York City playgrounds: spinning disc rides.