The DNAinfo archives brought to you by WNYC.
Read the press release here.

'Depressing' Hudson Heights Playground Needs Immediate Repairs, Locals Say

By Lindsay Armstrong | July 24, 2015 1:29pm | Updated on July 27, 2015 8:59am
 Parents said that an Uptown playground that's slated for a redesign needs immediate improvements.
"Depressing' Hudson Heights Playground Needs Improvements, Locals Say
View Full Caption

HUDSON HEIGHTS — An Uptown playground that's littered with broken or missing equipment and crisscrossed with construction fencing and chicken wire needs to be fixed immediately, parents and locals warn.

Jacob K. Javits Playground, at the southern entrance of Fort Tryon Park, is on the Parks Department's eventual list of repairs, but meanwhile, it's deteriorated to the point that parents are starting to avoid going there, they said.

The park's slide broke last fall and was removed without putting in a replacement, and the tire swing followed suit two months ago, they added.

“They’ve just let it go entirely,” said Kimberly Leakas, 39, the mother of two young children who moved to the neighborhood four years ago, “It's almost depressing to bring your kids there. We barely come to this playground anymore even though it’s closest to our home,”

Hudson Heights resident Cat Malone, 37, said that the Parks Department has been slow to respond to issues that need attention, like a broken tire swing.

“[The swing] just fell down one day and they left it here for a few days with all the nuts and bolts,” she said. “We’d like it to be fixed."

Alex Mack, a nanny who looks after two children in the neighborhood, said the construction netting and chicken wire that now surrounds the area where the slide once stood raises safety concerns.

“[The construction net is] an attraction to the kids,” she said. “This little one is 2 years old and she just wants to get in there and explore that, which is a little scary.”

And even the equipment that still exists is worn out, parents said. The playground's jungle gyms were installed 24 years ago, according to a presentation by the Parks Department.

In addition, the playground’s sprinklers, which is operated by a special key, is sometimes off on very hot days, parents said.

“Some day the water's turned on, some days it’s not. There’s no consistency to it,” said Leakas, noting that the water has been off at least twice when she and her kids went to the playground during the past few hot weeks.

The Parks Department is currently working on a plan to redesign the park, which has been in the initial design stage since February. The community is hoping it will include new state-of-the-art equipment and a restroom, but Parks could not yet provide details about the plans.

The first phase of work isn't likely to be completed for at least another three years, according to the presentation by the Parks Department. It's not immediately clear how many phases the project has and what they will entail.

City Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer have allocated $1.6 million in city funds for the first phase of the project, but the overall project could cost up to $5 million, according to the Fort Tryon Park Trust.

Playground users said they can’t wait that long for improvements.

They said they'd like to see the Parks Department make some basic repairs in the meantime to make the space more useful, including replacing the broken equipment, cutting back the over-grown weeds in the play area and making sure that the sprinklers are functioning on hot days.

“A lot of people use this park," Mack said. "It’s always super crowded. It would be nice to have it taken care of.”

Crystal Howard, a spokeswoman for the Parks Department, said that the agency has made improvements to the playground's sprinklers and landscaping recently, and it's working on replacing the missing equipment, she said.

"This summer, NYC Parks anticipates installing a slide to fit the specifications of the old play structure, thanks to the generous funding of the Fort Tyron Park Trust," she said. 

"We’re currently working on finding a safe and fun replacement for the broken tire swing."