New York City

Comptroller report: NYC paid out millions over playground injuries

Brooklyn playgrounds rack up most claims; A number of sites already fixed, however

March 2, 2015 By Mary Frost Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Slope Park Playground, which was hit with six claims for injuries to children over the years. Photo courtesy NYC Parks Department

More families than ever before are suing the city over injuries their kids sustained in city playgrounds, according to New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer.

Claims have risen 53 percent over the last ten years, Stringer said in his “ClaimStat Alert” released on Sunday. The city has paid out a total of $20,644,448 over those years.

Brooklyn had by far the most claims – 209 — filed during the study period of 2005 to 2014. In Manhattan, there were 123 claims filed during the same period. The Bronx and Queens both had 111 claims filed, while Staten Island recorded 23.

In Brooklyn, Stroud Playground in Prospect Heights and Slope Park Playground in the South Slope had the most problems, according to the report, with six claims each filed during the study period.

These included a hole in the ground, surface cracks, improper maintenance and unsafe climbing equipment (at Stroud), and improper maintenance and a dangerous swing (at Slope Park). The city paid out thousands for injuries from the poorly installed swing in Slope Park. The swing has since been removed.

Ten Brooklyn playgrounds, including Sunset Park Playground, Kolbert Park, Lincoln Terrace Park, Owls Head Playground and Bensonhurst Park racked up five claims each.

Many playgrounds were hit with one or two claims. These include the Main Street Park in Brooklyn Bridge Park (for a problem with the equipment); Pierrepont Playground in Brooklyn Heights (defective matting); Carroll Park (playground equipment); and the playground next to the Brooklyn Botanical Garden (playground equipment).

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Some of the playgrounds have already been fixed

A number of the playgrounds cited in the report have already been redesigned or are being redesigned, however, and trouble spots – such as spinning disk rides — have been fixed or removed.

Stroud Playground, for example, is slated to receive $5.1 million through Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Community Parks Initiative (CPI), which invests in under-funded parks. (Other Brooklyn parks set to receive CPI funds include Jesse Owens Playground, Saratoga Ballfields, Stockton Playground, Ten Eyck Playground and Thomas Boyland Park.)

Renovations at a number of the other playgrounds mentioned in Stringer’s report are underway or in the planning stages: Sunset Playground has been funded for a $2.9 million makeover; Kolbert Playground has been funded for a $2.4 million renovation. Slope Park playground renovations were completed in 2013 with a budget of $1.9 million. Phase 2 of a major renovation ($5.4 million) of Gravesend Playground in Borough Park will begin in 2015.

The Parks Department said in a statement that they are reviewing the Comptroller’s report. “The safety of our children is our number one priority for our world-class playgrounds, and we continue to look for ways to improve our already high standards of safe design.”

Parks added, “NYC Parks has a strong record of working proactively to identify and address playground safety issues with initiatives including best-in-class National Playground Safety Inspector Course training for our playground inspectors, the development of a Play Equipment Program to establish best practices across parks, and the establishment of a playgrounds oversight group that works directly with play equipment manufacturers to improve design.”

According to the Parks Department, all five borough operation teams have in place Daily Immediate Attention (IA) Systems that monitor the parks, along with other quality control measures.

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