By Julie Shapiro
BATTERY PARK CITY — The ribbon cutting of the new West Thames Park Thursday afternoon included an unexpected guest: the tire swing that was removed in May after two children were injured while riding it.
The State Department of Transportation, which built the park, re-installed the tire swing on Thursday exactly as it was before, but with a sign warning that it is only for children 48 inches and under, and that children should sit while riding it.
“As long as people follow those specification, everyone should be alright,” said Adam Levine, spokesman for the state DOT.
Justine Cuccia, a Battery Park City resident whose 8-year-old daughter sustained a lump after striking her head on the swing’s wooden beam in May, was upset to see the tire back in operation on Thursday.
“I’m outraged that they put this up,” she said. “Concerned parents will not allow this to stay.”
Cuccia stood beside the swing warning parents and children not to use it. Her daughter and the other girl who were injured on the day the playground opened in May were sitting on the swing and are both around 48 inches tall, she said.
Levine said the state studied the swing and spoke to the manufacturer, and found that the swing met all requirements. An identical one has functioned with no problems for a decade in the Bronx, Levine said.
After the DOT presented its report to the Battery Park City Authority, the authority signed off on re-installing the swing.
“DOT has said to us that it is functioning properly,” said Leticia Remauro, spokeswoman for the BPCA.
Kids at the park for its official opening Thursday were blissfully unaware of the tire swing controversy. They took advantage of the free hot dogs, sodas and balloons while officials feted the collaborative process that determined the park’s design, which includes a playground with water features, a lawn, separate adult and children’s basketball courts, community gardens and a dog run.
Children from the Battery Park City Day Nursery shared their assessment of the park with the gathered crowd — “I like to run around,” one girl confided into the microphone — and then helped to cut the ceremonial red ribbon.