Boerum Hill School Playground Dangerous to Kids, Parents Say

By Heather Holland on January 8, 2013 7:42am | Updated on January 8, 2013 8:55am

BOERUM HILL — A playground at P.S. 38 is a hazard to children’s safety and has sent several children to the hospital with injuries, according to parents who are pushing for an immediate overhaul.

The playground at 450 Pacific St. near Nevins Street — which serves students from pre-kindergarten through fifth grade — has equipment riddled with exposed-metal rivets and is left strewn with trash and broken glass after hours and on the weekends.

Parents said intruders cut open the metal fencing to get in after hours, leaving jagged edges.

“People get in there on the weekends at night, they play basketball and they party," said Tatiana Dierckx, co-secretary of the school’s PTA who said the grounds are left littered with trash including broken bottles, condoms and dog poop.

"They keep cutting the fence, which then becomes a problem for our kids during the day.

"Our custodian has to clean up the whole yard so that the children won’t be exposed to what’s left behind."

On Oct. 16, Corintha Carter's 6-year-old son was playing under the jungle gym after dismissal when he hit his head against the metal-and-plastic play bridge and cut himself on a rivet.

“It was very traumatic. There was blood all down his face,” Carter told DNAinfo.com New York.

“Under the bridge of the jungle gym there are pointy things [as a] part of the manufacturing.”

Carter immediately rushed her son to the emergency room, where he needed two staples to close the wound in his scalp, she said.

But she still allows her son to play on the playground during lunch because there is no other option, she added.

The school's playground includes a jungle gym, a basketball court and a softball diamond with turf. There is also a separate playground for pre-K students that parents say has similar issues.

A Department of Education spokeswoman said the playground's last renovation occurred in December 1999.

"The school has not reported any incidents involving the jungle gym during school hours," the DOE said in a statement.

"For the first time since 2004, the principal was told about an incident after school hours when a parent used the playground with her child. The principal keeps the playground open after school hours and on weekends for the community to enjoy." 

A sign at the playground said it is closed after dark.

An NYPD spokesman said no reports of problems had been received.

Parents are hoping a portion of the $1 million that their local City Council member designated from his discretionary funds to go exclusively to community groups as part of a new participatory budgeting program can be used to improve the playground.

They want security cameras throughout the playground, but also hope to pay for ground resurfacing and the replacement of equipment.

The group has yet to calculate how much funding would be needed to make improvements, but the parents — who will apply as the school's PTA — said they would have a draft of the proposal by mid-January.

“I’m thrilled that so many parents from P.S. 38 and schools across the district have decided to get involved," said Councilman Stephen Levin, who voluntarily adopted the participatory budgeting model, which encourages people to become more involved in council spending.

The program requires proposed projects to have a minimum cost of $35,000, said a representative from his office.

The hope is that the city funds will help fill the gap that community funds alone have not.

“Parents don’t have the money to donate to the PTA as much as other schools in the area,” said Dierckx.

“We realized that instead of getting money from parents, we really need to reach out to the community and local businesses.

"We have done bake sales, but we’re not going to renovate the playground selling cupcakes.”

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