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Sprinklers Are for Grass But Not for Kids in Sunset Park

By Alan Neuhauser | June 22, 2012 2:46pm | Updated on June 23, 2012 4:49pm
Ricki Martines, 32, and his 3-year-old son, Ricki Jr., watch sprinklers spray water just beyond reach, on the other side of a chain-link fence.
Ricki Martines, 32, and his 3-year-old son, Ricki Jr., watch sprinklers spray water just beyond reach, on the other side of a chain-link fence.
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DNAinfo/Alan Neuhauser

SUNSET PARK — The city Parks Department left Sunset Park residents hanging out to dry.

As temperatures soared to 94 degrees Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, Parks Department employees used sprinklers to water the grass inside a ring of locked chain-link fences in Sunset Park, but did not turn on the water to another sprinkler intended specifically for parkgoers, located in a park playground.

City rules dictate that park sprinklers must be turned on any time temperatures reach 80 degrees, a Parks Department spokeswoman said in a May email.

"No sprinklers for me," Ricki Martines Jr., 3, said as he sat on a park bench with his dad Thursday afternoon and looked longingly at the sprinklers watering the grass on the other side of the fence.

"I feel bad for kids who come into this park and play and want to get wet," said Ricki Martines, 32, as the jets' cool spray landed barely three feet beyond reach. "Having no water, it sucks."

Parks Department employees in Sunset Park directed questions to the agency's press office. Parks Department reps did not imediately respond to calls for comment, but Friday night sent an e-mail response, stating that a leak had caused the sprinkles to not function properly. Service was set to be restored Saturday, June 23.

Since October, construction contractors have been renovating the park's baseball fields and some of the walking paths. Sprinklers were placed there this week to irrigate newly-seeded grass next to the baseball field, said a man at the construction site who identified himself as the owner of the contracting company performing the renovation work.

On Friday, Elizabeth Corea, 28, sat on a bench with her 1-year-old niece, who she said had brought to the park to play in the sprinklers.

"They're supposed to be open for the kids," Corea said. "It's upsetting, because the kids get upset. You tell them they're going to play in the sprinkler, and then they can't."

Nelson Cruz, 17, a rising senior at Sunset Park High School, said he had planned to relax beneath the sprinklers with two classmates. When they arrived, though, Parks Department employees told them "they were turned off," Cruz recounted. "It was horrible."

Instead, the group settled for buying four bottles of water, which they said they planned to dump on their heads during the afternoon.

"The kids can't get cool, so they get frustrated, and when kids are frustrated, their parents get frustrated," said one woman sitting on a park bench, who declined to give her name because she is a city employee. "If the kids could play in the sprinklers, parents would feel like they're at a five-star hotel."