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Broken Equipment, Rats Plaguing City Playgrounds, Audit Finds

EAST VILLAGE — Broken equipment and rat infestations are plaguing some of New York’s playgrounds, a new audit has found.

Comptroller John Liu’s office surveyed 107 playgrounds across the city last summer and found safety hazards at more than two dozen of them, including rats scurrying through Tompkins Square Park to crumbling safety mats at East River Playground on East 106th Street.

The Parks Department regularly inspects playgrounds and posts the results online, but in some cases inspectors missed the dangerous conditions, the audit found. In other cases, inspectors noted the problems but the city failed to follow up and make repairs.

"Parents shouldn’t have to worry about their children playing on broken equipment or near rat holes — especially after Parks’ own inspectors have already reported the hazards," Liu said in a statement. 

"In some cases, the Parks Department is inexplicably slow to give its full attention to poor playground conditions and needs to better meet its own guidelines for making badly needed repairs."

The Parks Department disputed Liu's claim, saying that the city quickly repairs any safety hazards in parks and playgrounds.

"The high-quality condition of our parks and playgrounds is evident in the fact that hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers use and enjoy them safely every day, and our Parks Inspection Program is the most comprehensive of any urban park system in the world," a Parks Department spokesman said in a statement.


In addition to the rats in Tompkins Square Park, the comptroller’s inspectors also found chipped paint on playground equipment and a missing safety mat near its swings during a visit last July.

The Parks Department had inspected the park twice last spring but did not note the chipped paint or the rodents, Liu’s audit found.

Liu’s inspectors also found tripping hazards or cracked safety surfaces at several other Manhattan playgrounds, including Dry Dock Playground at East 10th Street and Avenue D, Henry M. Jackson Playground at 317 Henry St., and Monsignor Kett Playground on West 204th Street.

At Chinatown’s Columbus Park, the comptroller’s inspectors found adults in the playground who were not accompanied by a child under 12, as required by law.

In Brooklyn, the inspectors found damaged benches with missing slats at Fox Playground and unsecured safety mats at Hickman and Homecrest Playgrounds.

Auditors also found a "dangerously protruding metal bracket" at Hammel Playground in Queens, and "rotted and splintered playground equipment" at Soundview Playground in the Bronx.

The auditors did not find any issues at Staten Island playgrounds.