Audit: Nearly 3/4 of NYCHA playgrounds in unsatisfactory or dangerous condition

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- An audit released Wednesday by New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer found that the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) has failed to properly maintain hundreds of playgrounds, potentially putting tens of thousands of children living in its developments at risk.

The audit found that most of NYCHA's playgrounds were in decrepit condition, with dozens potentially posing imminent danger to children.

Stringer's office inspected all 788 NYCHA-maintained playgrounds across 238 different NYCHA developments and found that 549, or 70 percent, were plagued by unsatisfactory and often hazardous conditions such as missing and broken play equipment, exposed jagged edges, and loose and damaged safety surfaces.

Visibly hazardous conditions that may pose imminent danger to children were found at 72 playgrounds in 52 different NYCHA developments, and the audit revealed that NYCHA's own inspection reports for 25 sampled developments were either inaccurate, lacked the required supervisory review, or were missing altogether.

Among the findings, according to the audit:
--151 developments had a total of 352 playgrounds with damaged safety surfacing, such as mats and tiles that were loose, missing, warped or otherwise damaged
--97 developments had a total of 164 playgrounds with missing, bent, or broken play equipment
--59 developments had a total of 149 playgrounds with broken or deteriorated benches
--55 developments had a total of 79 playgrounds with clogged or inadequate water drainage

At 25 NYCHA developments where auditors found hazardous playground conditions, they also looked for NYCHA's required monthly inspection reports covering a 17month period and found:
--24 developments (96 percent) failed to report any hazardous playground conditions in need of repair, despite the clearly visible hazards
--9 developments (36 percent) filed more than a dozen inaccurate inspection reports within two months of the auditors' inspections, omitting specific hazards the auditors identified
--12 developments (48 percent) filed no inspection reports whatsoever
--Overall, the 25 developments filed only 124 (29 percent) of the required 425 monthly inspection reports
--Of the 124 playground inspection reports NYCHA maintained on file, more than half had not been signed by a supervisor as required by NYCHA's own standards
--The only NYCHA development that noted any conditions in need of repair reported a single damaged slide on 22 consecutive inspection reports but failed to repair it until after auditors reported it and other playground damage to NYCHA's senior management.

In one case, one week after the comptroller's office informed NYCHA's senior management of visibly hazardous damage to a bench, a play structure platform, and a spiral slide at the Throggs Neck Houses playground, the development filed an inspection report that inaccurately rated the condition of all three items as "good." Four days later, the development filed a new inspection report that rated the spiral slide as "unsatisfactory" and stated that it had been removed but continued to rate the two other damaged items as "good." Ultimately, NYCHA reported that all three damaged items were either removed, blocked off, or slated for repair.

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