Bruckner Playground draws parent complaints

Throggs Neck parents and local leaders are looking for ways to make the Bruckner Playground behind M.S. 101 safer for young children.
Arthur Cusano

Some parents are concerned that a small neighborhood playground adjacent to the M.S. 101 school is dirty, unsafe and has little to offer young children.

Throggs Neck resident and parent Laura Santiago said drug use by youths in Bruckner Playground had become increasingly noticeable, and evidence of drug use such as dime bags, pills and used marijuana joints can be found not just in the basketball courts but around the jungle gyms.

Parents have also found used condoms in those same areas, she added.

“There is no surveillance, it is a very hidden kind of area,” she said. “There are no cops around or security, so they are able to get away with a lot over there. And there is very poor lighting, no lighting in the play area at all.”

The only jungle gym her two-year-old can use is usually set aside for the school, while the rest of the park is mostly open space save for a skate park and one jungle gym for older children.

She hopes another play area can be built for young children, and perhaps benches for teens to sit on to keep them out of the children’s space.

Santiago has two petitions on Change.org that she is collecting signatures for to submit to the city.

Problems at the park were being addressed, according to a statement issued by the NYC Parks Department.

“NYC Parks has scheduled Parks Enforcement Patrol officers to patrol Bruckner Playground daily and added additional trash cans to the park. We are continuing to explore additional measures to address this issue. The NYPD is the principal anti-crime force in the city, and we maintain strong lines of communication with precincts to address trouble spots in parks and share information. We encourage the public to call 911 if they witness illegal activity in parks.”

A department spokesman said parks has installed signs noting that the park is under flash camera surveillance, and the playground is locked every night and closed to the public after 9 p.m.

Assemblyman Michael Benedetto’s office had spoken to Santiago about the issues, and has reached out to the police for more patrols.

Benedetto supported the idea of adding more child-friendly features, but said the benches were removed years ago at the request of Swinton Avenue homeowners that have properties abutting the rear of the park.

One of the best ways to discourage negative activity in the park was to make sure there was positive activity, explained Robert Bieder, the 4th Precinct Community Council president.

He urged concerned parents to get involved with the Community Board 10 Parks Committee and to attend his council meetings to discuss concerns.

“When there is good positive family activity going on and is visible, those people who want to do things that aren’t good don’t want to be visible,” he said.

The request for better lighting at the park would have to go to the NYC Department of Transportation, which Bieder said installs all city outdoor light fixtures.

Reach Reporter Arthur Cusano at (718) 742–4584. E-mail him at acusano@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @arthurcusano.

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