public housing

Comptroller: Stop Playing Games with Playground Inspections

A playground at the James Weldon Johnson Houses in East Harlem was in need of repairs, June 25, 2019.
A playground at the James Weldon Johnson Houses in East Harlem was in need of repairs, June 25, 2019. Photo: Ben Fractenberg/THE CITY

The city’s Housing Authority must inspect all of its nearly 800 playgrounds right away and explain why it has ignored its own decade-old review rules, City Comptroller Scott Stringer said Monday.

The New York City Housing Authority failed to inspect its playgrounds within 90 days last year, breaking a vow made following a damning audit, THE CITY reported last week.

“These findings were extremely alarming and they demonstrated outright neglect,” Stringer wrote to interim NYCHA Chairwoman Kathryn Garcia on Monday.

He noted that NYCHA’s internal Standard Procedure, issued in 2009, requires authority maintenance workers to conduct monthly playground inspections. The handwritten reviews are supposed to be filed in NYCHA’s Maximo computer system.

“Those procedures were largely ignored, a management failure that NYCHA has yet to acknowledge or explain,” Stringer’s letter says.

Auditors with his office found 70% of NYCHA’s playgrounds in “unsatisfactory” condition during a review conducted from June 2016 to October 2017. In 25 areas, NYCHA maintenance workers filed bogus information, according to the review.

That included a playground with a spiral metal slide with a jagged edge and other issues at the Throggs Neck Houses playground on July 24, 2017. The audit made nine recommendations for improvement, and the authority generally accepted the suggestions.

NYCHA officials promised to check all of its 788 playgrounds across 238 developments following the May 2018 audit.

That didn’t happen.

On Monday, NYCHA general manager Vito Mustaciuolo said the authority has finally inspected all of the playgrounds “and is working to make any necessary repairs.” The comprehensive review was launched following questions about the system from THE CITY.

“We look forward to meeting with the Comptroller to provide an update on the status of our inspection program,” he added.

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