PARK SLOPE — The city is putting the brakes on spinning playground equipment following reports of injuries, a Parks Department spokeswoman said.
Rotating metal saucers that kids ride at two Park Slope playgrounds were recently welded into place so they can't move, and the city has made similar modifications or removed a total of seven disks citywide "in the interest of public safety," the spokeswoman said.
The spokeswoman declined to discuss how many injuries had been reported or other specifics.
Turning the spinning disks into statues angered Park Slope parents, who said the city was going too far to protect kids.
“I think it sucks,” said dad David Friedlander, whose 2-year-old was disappointed to find the the spinning disk at Vanderbilt Playground in Prospect Park suddenly stuck in place in late November. “I think it's a sad commentary on how litigious and afraid we've become of having our children get a few boo-boos."
Friedlander said his son had tumbled off the disk — which is about 4 feet wide and stands about 2 feet off the ground — onto the rubberized ground below, but he doesn't consider the equipment a safety hazard. Friedlander said it should be up to parents to decide if their children can handle playing on the saucer, not the city.
"This makes me completely insane. What's the point of even going to the playground? Better lock up the swings, too," wrote one frustrated mom of a 3-year-old on a South Slope email list.
Parents in that neighborhood said they're bummed a similar rotating saucer at Slope Park on Sixth Avenue and 18th Street was also recently welded so that it can't move.
The city removed a swing at Slope Park last year after several kids broke their legs while playing on it, but parents said the spinning metal disk didn't seem to present nearly the same risk. Parents who visit Slope Park frequently said they've never seen kids injured while playing at the saucer.
Though several families filed claims against the city regarding the Slope Park swing, no claims have been filed regarding the spinning disks there, according to the City Comptroller's Office.
The Parks Department altered the following spinning disks:
► Union Square Park, Manhattan — welded stationary
► McNair Park, Manhattan — welded stationary
► Central Park, Manhattan — removed
► Utopia Park, Queens — removed
► Mullaly Park, The Bronx — removed
► Slope Park, Brooklyn — welded stationary
► Prospect Park, Brooklyn — welded stationary
A spokesman for City Councilman Carlos Menchaca, who represents the South Slope, said his office hadn't received any complaints about the rotating saucer at Slope Park, and a spokesman for City Councilman Brad Lander said no one complained about the metal disk at Vanderbilt Playground until after it was welded into a stationary position.
Mom Rebecca Stein said both her daughters, who are 5 and nearly 2, love to play on the rotating saucers at Vanderbilt Playground and Slope Park. The equipment lets her kids test boundaries and get a feel for how their little bodies balance and move, Stein said.
"They think it’s fantastic," Stein said. “They love the thrill of balancing and sort of playing risky. It’s being close to danger, but without any real danger.”
Stein said both her children had slipped off the saucers, but the worst that ever befell them was an extreme case of dizziness. She lamented the loss of the disks as part of a larger trend away from letting children play freely.
"Playgrounds are so sanitized now," Stein said. "There’s no thrill. In the playgrounds of our youth you could climb and feel like you were above things and use more of your imagination. I don’t think that happens anymore."