Bensonhurst Park and Gravesend Park are among the riskiest in the city when it comes to playground injury lawsuits, according to new data released by the Comptroller’s Office.
City Council District 43 – which includes Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Bensonhurst, and Bath Beach – saw more than 20 playground-related claims between 2005 and 2014, making it the district with second highest number of claims, according to the report. Bensonhurst Park and Gravesend Park were singled out for accumulating four claims each during the 10-year review period, landing them on the report’s top 15 list.
Marnee Elias-Pavia, district manager of CB 11, told us she hasn’t read the report yet, but noted that Bensonhurst Park is in need of “a full rehabilitation.”
“I think it just ages out. We have approximately 80,000 residents, and it’s a heavily utilized park,” said Elias-Pavia. “There hasn’t been a significant rehabilitation of Bensonhurst Park in many years and that’s why we’re advocating for funding in our capital expense.”
Brooklyn fares far worse than the rest of the city when it comes to playground injury suits, according to the data, with 209 claims throughout the borough – compared to 123 claims in Manhattan and 111 in Queens and the Bronx each. In total, 577 playground-related claims were filed against the city over the last 10 years – an average of about one a week – and the city has paid out a total of $20,644,448 in claims during that period.
Certain types of equipment are more likely to contribute to injuries than others. For example, climbing structures accounted for 10 percent of all claims during the review period, while slides accounted for 5 percent and 4 percent of claims were swing-related. (One more thing to be paranoid about, parents: monkey bars.)
More than 30 percent of injuries were due to improper surfacing – including missing or defective matting, cracked or broken surfaces, holes in the ground, and rubber mats that burn too hot in summer months – accounting for 176 claims during the review period. Other claims cited poor maintenance and defective equipment, such as swings and slides, improper playground design, and protruding nails or trash.
Many playgrounds listed in the report have already been repaired or redesigned by the Parks Department. In some cases, equipment has been removed completely, such as at Gravesend Park, where the city is in the process of demolishing its hockey rink, expanding its playground, and reconstructing its courts and ball fields. Bensonhurst Park has not seen any significant construction in the last decade.
As Comptroller Scott Stringer released the data, he wrote a letter urging the city’s Parks Department to dedicate more funds towards park and playground safety.
“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 in a statement. “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.”