Reports generated by the Juniper Park Civic Association of just how unsafe the upper playground at Juniper Valley Park is prompted the NYC Park Department to make a somewhat futile attempt at fixing the existing equipment.
The Parks Department also did some last minute repairs at 12 other parks, according to Richard Murphy, the Queens Borough Parks Commissioner.
By haphazardly cutting the wooden play equipment by several feet at the Juniper playground, the Parks Department may have succeeded in not only releasing an airborne carcinogen, arsenic, which is the wood's preservative, but they also made it more dangerous. On the top of the pile of huge climbing logs there is no longer a steadying handhold for the children because it has been cut down. We have received several complaints from parents about the Parks Department's "quick fix."
While watching several children of varying ages sway at the top in an attempt to steady themselves, and also witnessing the fall of a young boy, I was approached by Iwona, a Middle Village resident and mother of a 2 year-old boy. "They just made it worse!" she lamented "This is ridiculous, they just need to replace it or close it down. There are such beautiful playgrounds, like the dinosaur one in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park that no kids even use. It isn't fair."
The dangerous protruding bolts remain (see photo above), as do the head entrapment areas at the top of the slide. The equipment remains too close together and there still isn't the required amount of protective surfacing under and around the play area. More recently, a sloppy caulking job was done between the rotting wood pieces .We watched as kids fingered and played with this dangerous substance, since the area was not closed off for the repair.The NYC Parks Department should have consulted a playground safety inspector for advice on the correct way to make it safer, rather than taking it into their own hands and making it worse.
On Tuesday, January 29th Robert Holden, JPCA President and I met with a private funding corporation to discuss options for replacing the dangerous playground equipment. Eileen Reilly and Tony Nunziato from Maspeth Town Hall were also in attendance to help administer a proposed grant submitted by the JPCA.
The JPCA will continue to make efforts to replace this dangerous playground through private funding. We must, as the tax paying residents of the community, make them more accountable for their work. If you'd like to complain to the NYC Park Department about the conditions at Juniper Valley Park (or your local park) you can contact them at: