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Report: Public Housing Playgrounds Equipment Unsafe

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The New York Post

 

Nearly 70 percent of playgrounds at city public-housing projects are plagued with broken equipment and other hazards — and in many cases the problems were swept under the rug through bogus inspection reports, it was reported Wednesday.

Comptroller Scott Stringer released a scathing audit Wednesday that found unsatisfactory conditions at 549 of 788 playgrounds maintained by the New York City Housing Authority.

Auditors over a 17-month period ending last October also found visibly dangerous conditions, such as exposed jagged edges on metal slides and damaged safety surfaces, at 72 playgrounds covering 52 projects.

"The conditions are decrepit . . .," Stringer said at a press conference in his Manhattan office. "Just when we should be helping our kids achieve their dreams, NYCHA is making play space a nightmare."

Stringer's auditors also found serious flaws in NYCHA's own inspection process, including inaccurate reports omitting specific hazards identified by the auditors at nine locations.

Moreover, the auditors found that no NYCHA inspection reports had been filed for 12 sites, in violation of the housing agency's own rules.

The report was issued just two days after Gov. Cuomo signed an emergency order setting up an independent monitor to oversee much-needed repairs throughout the sprawling authority.

NYCHA Chair Shola Olatoye had earlier come under fire for blowing off mandatory lead-paint inspections, then lying to the feds about it.

Stringer said "inaccurate inspection reporting" seems to be a regular occurrence at NYCHA.

He said he's "demanding" that the agency re-inspect all its playgrounds immediately.

In one case noted in the audit, the Comptroller's Office informed NYCHA senior staff of visibly hazardous damage to a bench, a spiral slide and a play-structure platform at the Throggs Neck Houses in The Bronx.

But a week later, the development filed an inspection report that rated all three in "good" condition. Ultimately, NYCHA took steps to remove or repair the items.

In another case, staffers at the Patterson Houses in The Bronx reported after 22 consecutive inspections that one of its slides was damaged.

But repairs were not made until Stringer's auditors showed up and reported the damage to NYCHA officials.

When asked about the audit's findings, NYCHA issued a statement stating it "is committed to providing safe, clean and connected communities for everyone who lives in public housing."

The statement added:

"We had an external auditor review all of our playgrounds and are already taking steps to correct hazardous conditions within 90 days. We have accepted most of the recommendations and are working towards implementing them now."

Dangerous conditions at selected New York City Housing Authority playgrounds found by Comptroller Scott Stringer's auditors:

At the South Jamaica Houses in Queens (left), a play structure had a broken crossing bridge and a broken chain ladder. Both were removed by NYCHA and the area was closed off. At the Patterson Houses in The Bronx, staff reported in 22 consecutive inspections that a slide was damaged. But it was not fixed until auditors showed up and reported the damage to NYCHA officials.

At the Throggs Neck Houses in The Bronx (inset), in July 2017, the Comptroller's Office informed NYCHA senior staff of a broken bench, a damaged spiral metal slide with a jagged edge and a deteriorating playstructure platform A week later, the development filed an inspection report rating all three in "good" condition. NYCHA eventually took steps to remove or repair the items.

At the Riis Houses on the Lower East Side, a play structure's spiral climber was found broken with exposed sharp metal edges.

At the Armstrong Houses in Brooklyn, auditors found that a deteriorated chainlog ladder was not properly secured to its play structure.

The development didn't have funds for repairs, so the play equipment was tossed.

At the Jackson Houses in The Bronx, two playgrounds had deteriorating metal slides with cracks and exposed jagged edges on the metal sides.

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April 5, 2018
 
 
 

 

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