The “State of Play” for Brooklyn kids is dire, who lack clean and safe spaces to play, according to a report released by Comptroller Scott M. Stringer on Monday.

With only eight playgrounds for every 10,000 children, Brooklyn is the most underserved borough, reveals the new study titled “State of Play: A New Model for NYC Playgrounds,” documenting NYC’s severe shortage of playgrounds.

The situation is particularly severe in Crown Heights and Flatbush, where there are fewer than five playgrounds for every 10,000 children, according to the report. 

“Playgrounds are essential public spaces, offering children a place to socialize, learn, be active and exercise their imagination,” said Stringer. “But our findings reveal stark disparities in access to these critical public spaces in New York City.”

The comptroller’s office examined all 2,067 city playgrounds, of which 1,028 are overseen by the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation, 796 managed by NYCHA and 243 are “Schoolyards to Playgrounds” conversions co-administered by NYC Parks and the Department of Education.

The number of “hazardous” playgrounds, by Community District. Source: Office of Comptroller Scott M. Stringers

Inspectors found the conditions at hundreds of NYC Parks playgrounds to be subpar during their latest inspections in 2018. They found that 521 of the NYC Parks playgrounds had at least one hazardous feature that required “immediate attention;” these included 807 “Priority 2 Hazards” that “present the chance of slight to moderate injury” and 29 “Priority 1 Hazards” that “present the chance of life-threatening or debilitating injury.”

Hundreds of NYC Parks playgrounds were rated as “unacceptable” by the inspectors due to features either being unsatisfactory, constituting a serious safety hazard or the playground having a failed cleanliness standards. Twenty-four percent of Brooklyn playgrounds were designated as “unacceptable,” which marks the highest percentage citywide.

Stringer issued a range of recommendations to improve the conditions of the existing playgrounds and called on the City to build 200 new play spaces in the next five years. 

To build these new facilities, he proposed a program dubbed “Pavement to Playgrounds,” which creates playgrounds and plazas on lightly-used residential blocks in partnership with NYC Parks, the Department of Transportation local nonprofits and community boards. Stringer also called for the expansion of the “Schoolyards to Playgrounds” program, which makes play spaces available to children even when schools are closed.

The comptroller urged to specifically target high-need neighborhoods in Brooklyn, where the growth in the number of children has outpaced the number of available playgrounds, to design play spaces that serve a wide range of ages and to increase funding to better maintain existing playgrounds.

“Our City needs to overhaul the planning, construction and maintenance of our playground system,” said Stringer. “We can make a major impact on the lives and health of New York City children by substantially expanding the number of playgrounds in neighborhoods that are in dire need of these spaces, while also ensuring they are well-maintained and safe for every child.”

Read the full report here.

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