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Put it in park: Comptroller wants to build playgrounds in the middle of Brooklyn streets

Parked: The Comptroller used a mid-street playground in Crown Heights as an example of his plan.
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He’s not playing around.

The city should build playgrounds in the middle of residential streets, according to the its top auditor.

Comptroller Scott Stringer blasted the state of New York City’s play spaces, singling out Kings County as particularly reprehensible, and called for construction of playgrounds in the center of several residential roads, creating two dead-ends on either side.

“Today, we are calling on New York City to build 200 new playgrounds in the next five years,” he said. “This would employ a new initiative to creating playgrounds by taking advantage of under-utilized residential streets.”

As a model for his plan, Stringer pointed to a Crown Heights playground, constructed in the center of St. Marks Avenue between Kingston and Albany avenues.

The plan came with a recently released report from the comptroller’s office which criticized the density and condition of playgrounds around the city.

“On the whole, Brooklyn is the most underserved borough,” says the report. “Clearly, playground construction is lagging behind the times and failing to account for changing demographics in our city neighborho­ods.”

The report, which examined all 2,067 municipal playgrounds in the city, found that Brooklyn had the least amount of playgrounds per-child of any borough.

Public-space activists joined Stringer at an April 27 press conference following the release of the report, applauding the auditor for rethinking conventional wisdom.

“New Yorkers often complain about the lack of space in this city,” said Thomas DeVito of Transportation Alternatives. “There is actually a lot of space, it’s just that we use what’s available to us thoughtlessly. 17 square miles of New York City is dedicated to storing cars on our streets — that’s 13 Central Parks that we are giving away and getting nothing communal in return.”

In addition to his playground plan, Stringer called for a substantial increase in funding for playground maintenance, lamenting the porous state of existing parks.

“Not only do we not have enough playgrounds, but the report we’re releasing today finds that too often, the ones we do have are falling in disrepair,” he said. “So we’re not maintaining our playgrounds, and it shows. In Brooklyn, 24 percent of playgrounds were deemed ‘unacceptable’ by inspectors.”

Investigators consider playgrounds to be unacceptable if they feature a safety hazard or fail to meet the city’s cleanliness standard, according to Stringer.

“Damaged or loose play equipment, broken benches, flimsy fences, and sharp surfaces. These are the nightmares for every parent,” he said. “A child could have a permanent disability that could changed his-or-her-life forever.”

Stringer said the report showed a lack of proper investment in public spaces, and called on the city to fundamentally re-examine its administration of public playgrounds.

“Our findings reveal stark disparities in access to these critical public spaces in New York City,” he said. “That’s why our city needs to overhaul the planning, construction, and maintenance of our playground system.”

Reach reporter Aidan Graham at agraham@schnepsmedia.com or by calling (718) 260–4577. Follow him at twitter.com/aidangraham95.

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Reasonable discourse

Joe from Brooklyn says:
What needs to be done is convert all roads into playgrounds, obviously. Then folks will have a place to play! But no bikes allowed, as they are a dangerous nuisance.
May 3, 12:45 pm
Joe from Brooklyn says:
I'm a dangerous nuisance. That's why I'm not allowed near children.
May 3, 2:40 pm
Joe the Biden from Amtrak says:
This is exactly what the permanent leisure class that lives off their trust funds and have overrun this city believes we all need. Who needs a car or has to work? Having estate taxes over 90% will cure this foolishness in one generation.
May 3, 6:26 pm
Frank from Furter says:
Did they count the school yards that are now open as playgrounds?
May 3, 7:59 pm
Blanquita Checca from El Barrio Nuevo says:
There’s plenty of room for new parks and playgrounds on NYCHA land. Time to dismantle some of the projects and allow all people to be able to use the underutilized green space. Right now all the green space at the projects is dirty and dangerous. Tear down some projects and rebuild on other NYCHA sites, thereby freeing up land for the new parks. Duh.
May 4, 12:14 am
Ching Wong from Chinese says:
Does this bozo hate bicycles?!? How are we supposed to bike in Brooklyn if there are playgrounds in the way everywhere?
May 4, 9:35 am
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
I feel that this has bad idea written all over it, plus it will create problems for those who drive and park there. How about using some of the empty lots to place the playgrounds instead? This way nobody has to sacrifice anything. Then again, it won't be a good thing for those anti-car fanatics over on Transportation Alternatives and Streetsblog.
May 4, 2 pm
Delores from Williamsburg says:
People are just over-reacting! So what if they close 200 streets to build playgrounds ? They can just build 200 more streets to pick up the traffic. Build them over parks or natural areas. Tear down historical buildings and make streets. The mayor already found the unused Promenade as the perfect spot for a highway !
May 4, 3:39 pm
Jim from Cobble Hill says:
This is a bad idea. You have to respect the grid and the flow. You are basically creating more super-blocks in Brooklyn, which is the opposite of what it needs.
May 4, 8:28 pm
Mustache Pete from Windsor Terrace says:
Stringer is an earnest, well-meaning guy who'll do anything to get traction with "progressives." But unless his kids grow really cool afros, he'll never be mayor.
May 4, 9:28 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Maybe it would be better for Stringer to fix the playgrounds that already exist rather than think about something so crazy such as this idea.
May 5, 2:24 pm
Santiago Acosta from El Barrio Nuevo says:
Playgrounds? LMAO! That’s where all the shootings and stabbings go down. Let’s build tent cities to house all the illegal immigrants that DemonRats want to allow to enter our country, all paid for by the taxpayers, and probably unvaccinated!
May 5, 5:30 pm
Bev Warbles from Brooklyn Heights says:
These children lack imagination - when I was young the streets were our playgrounds and acorns were our toys. We didn't need city-sanctioned Comptrollers to dictate where and when were allowed to have fun. This man, who only thinks of money, intends to buy childrens' joy. It's not for sale! Money can't fix this problem!
May 6, 5:09 am
Brian from Sheephshead Bay says:
This guy needs to be committed. There are tons of playgrounds that arent even utilized! Every public school has a playground! Plus you have random parks scattered around. They can't even keep the existing ones in sufficient repair and they want to open more? Liberalism is a mental disorder.
May 8, 7 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Brian, I'm as liberal as they come, but I think that this is a bad idea, plus I feel that it's makes more sense to fix the playgrounds that already exist.
May 9, 5:13 pm

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