By Julie Shapiro
BATTERY PARK CITY — Before angry parents could follow through on threats to cut down a tire swing they think is dangerous from the newly opened West Thames Park a second time, the state agreed Tuesday night to remove it.
Parents mobilized against the swing, located on West Thames Street across from the World Trade Center, after several children smacked their heads on the tire’s wooden support beam while riding it.
“This thing is a nuisance,” said Bill Schoenmaker, whose 8-year-old daughter sustained a half-inch lump on her head in May.
Schoenmaker removed the swing after his daughter’s accident and said he was “boggled” to see it up again at the ribbon cutting for the park last week. He and others said more children have hit their heads since then.
Lisa Weiss, urban design director for the State Department of Transportation, which built the park, replied that the swing complied with all safety regulations, and an identical one at Riverdale Country School in the Bronx generated no complaints.
But after Community Board 1’s Battery Park City Committee unanimously voted Tuesday evening that the swing should come down, Weiss agreed to remove it Wednesday morning and work with the board and local parents on a solution.
Still, Weiss cautioned that the state does not have any more money to devote to the project, and replacing the tire swing with a different piece of equipment would require “significant construction,” she said.
Community board members suggested small changes to the existing swing, like adding padding to the wooden beam or restricting the swing’s range of motion. But if the state modifies the equipment in any way, the state could face liability in future accidents, said Signe Nielsen, the project’s architect.
Attendees of Tuesday’s board meeting had a slew of other complaints about the recently opened $9.4 million West Thames Park, including that the fence is too short, a spinning dish for children to ride gets too hot in the sun and the water features are not draining properly.
While the state is still making final tweaks to the park, Linda Belfer, chairwoman of CB1’s Battery Park City Committee, said it’s time to focus on enjoying what’s there.
“If we take down everything DOT has done because people are complaining about it,” Belfer said, “we’re going to end up with no park.”