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August 13, 2009

 

NYC Parks Department Needs to Improve Efforts to Correct Hazardous Conditions


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The New York City Department of Parks and Recreation needs to do a better job of correcting hazardous conditions in a timely manner to avoid putting park visitors at risk, according to an audit released today by State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli.

“Letting hazardous conditions slide puts the public in danger and exposes the city to potential lawsuits,” DiNapoli said. “The department needs to step up its efforts to correct these problems and do a better job of tracking the progress of those corrections. The safety of the public has to come first.”

When Parks Department inspectors find a hazard, it is generally expected to be corrected in two to four weeks. DiNapoli’s auditors followed-up on 85 hazardous conditions identified by park inspectors in October 2008, finding 41 hazards had yet to be corrected and were as many as 76 days overdue. The hazards included four that the department believed posed the risk of life-threatening or debilitating injuries.

For example, a hockey rink at a playground in Queens had splintered jagged walls with sharp edges and protruding bolts. The hazards were identified in an inspection last June and again in October, but were still not corrected when auditors visited the site in December.

Auditors also found that some earlier discovered hazards were not noted on subsequent inspections, even though auditors still observed the same conditions in December.

The report recommends the Parks Department:

  • track the status of all hazardous conditions identified during inspections, and follow up with the responsible officials when the conditions are not corrected on time;
  • reduce the risk of injury by either securing the area around a hazard or posting a warning when hazardous conditions cannot be corrected in a timely manner; and
  • determine why previously identified hazards were not identified again during second inspections, and take any actions that are needed to improve the thoroughness of the inspection process.

Department officials agreed with most of the recommendations and indicated they are taking actions to implement them. The department also noted that the 41 hazards have been corrected since auditors visited the sites.

Click here for a copy of the audit.


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