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Inwood Playground Slide to Be Removed After Company Issues Recall

By Carla Zanoni | February 20, 2012 7:24am

INWOOD — A children's slide is being yanked from an Inwood playground amid a nationwide recall by the manufacturer.

The Parks Department is removing the play equipment from Inwood Hill Park after the same model was cited in 16 reports of injuries to young children across the US.

The six-foot-high slide, called the Slalom Glider, is made by Minnesota-based playground Landscape Structures. 

“Children can fall when moving from the ladder to the slide and when descending the chute,” according to a warning issued by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission last week. 

The accidents were blamed on the equipment's lack of a "transition platform on the top and sides of the chute."

The CPSC received “16 reports of injuries to children under 8-years old, including one bruised arm, 14 fractures to arms and legs, one fractured collar bone and one bruised spleen,” according to a press release from the commission.

“Keeping kids safe on our playground equipment is a priority for Landscape Structures Inc., and LSI never wants to see children put in harm’s way,” the company said in an e-mail.

The Parks Department asked the manufacturer to remove the curved plastic and steel slide and replace it with another slide as soon as possible, said Phil Abramson, a department spokesman. 

The department taped off the slide with yellow caution tape early Friday morning, a day after the recall. 

The Parks Department did not respond to a request for information about whether or not the slide was installed in other city parks throughout the five boroughs. 

The company sold and distributed 900 of the slides throughout the country. 

Friends of Indian Road Playground, a volunteer group that oversees the playground, said it would like to be in the loop in the decision-making process to replace the slide.

"The FIRP would like to be informed by the Parks Dept. of any design choices/options for a replacement, since the FIRP and the community were instrumental in giving feedback throughout the renovation design process," FIRP spokeswoman Karin Dando-Haenish said in an email.

Parents had raised concerns about the slide when it was first installed in November 2010 after the playground got a $1 million renovation.

A mother on a local parenting email list wrote in late 2010 that her two-year-old son had been hurt when pushed off the upper platform of the slide by an older child who was playing on the same equipment. 

“If there were bars on the sides, like there are on almost all other playgrounds, this wouldn't have happened," she said.

"The thing is totally open and not safe."

Several parents said a young boy had broken his arm after falling from the slide last year, but it was not immediately clear if the injury had been reported to authorities. 

Jennifer Hoppa, administrator for Northern Manhattan Parks, told DNAinfo in November 2010 that the equipment selected for the park "[met] or exceeds safety standards" and was planned by playground experts "with input from the community and elected officials over many months."

Notices were posted soon after the playground opened in 2010 offering instructions on how children should use the equipment. 

It’s simply a bad product and obviously not safe,” Inwood father Juan Moreias told DNAinfo in a Facebook message, adding that he was surprised more children had not been hurt. 

Inger Tilsen-Breton, an Inwood mother, remembers parents asking for a more traditional slide during planning sessions with the Parks Department before the playground was remodeled. She said she remained “skeptical” of the slide when the renovation was completed. 

While I try to embrace newer technologies,” Tilsen-Breton, who has two young sons, said, “I could never shake the feeling that this 'newfangled nonsense slide' was risky business.”

It's the latest in a series of playground controversies in the city.

In Union Square in 2010, the Parks Department added a canopy to cover a metal climbing dome in a new $3.8 million playground after parents complained it was too hot for children. The department also removed a spinning dish at that playground because it rotated too fast.

And at West Thames Park in Battery Park City, a controversial tire swing was removed in the playground after three children were injured while playing on it days after it was installed in 2011. Parents at that park requested the swing be reinstalled after deciding its popularity outweighed concerns about its safety.  

Despite the recall at Indian Road Playground last week, not all parents were concerned about the slide. 

Some parents said they hoped to see something modern and interesting replace the slide and said concerns seemed overblown. 

“Kids will be kids,” Kingsbridge mom Danielle Stauffer said.

“They’re going to fall down no matter what you do. It might as well be while doing something fun.”