NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — There was pushback from parents Thursday evening after the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation banned toys from a Brooklyn playground.
CBS2 Political Reporter Marcia Kramer explained how for some families, the policy change ruined a longtime tradition. She spoke with two little girls on the playground.
“Sometimes I miss the carriage,” said Sadie Gottlieb.
“I miss the boxes to hang on the bars,” said Madeline Feldman.
“My daughter’s 3 1/2, and she would use baby toys in order to use as a step to get up to the bars they couldn’t reach,” said Madeline’s mother, Elise Feldman
Sadie and Madeline are way too little to understand government bureaucracy. All they know is that until a few weeks ago, their local playground at Underhill Park in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn was filled with toys donated by local parents for all to use.
It had been going on for many years.
But then, Mayor Bill de Blasio began airing a campaign commercial that showed video of some of the toys. Suddenly, the Parks Department swooped in and waved its magic wand and the toys were gone – all destroyed.
Parents were angry.
“I think it’s a shame,” said parent Jenni Quilter. “One of the reasons why we live near this playground was because when we first came to the neighborhood, there were so many toys here.”
“It’s a little sad, I think, because I’ve been here for seven and a half years and they’ve always been here,” said Kate Gottlieb.
“My daughter learned to ride a tricycle in this park, from a trike that had a slightly broken wheel, and it was easier to learn because it was slower,” Feldman added.
The Parks Department insisted that the toy removal had nothing to do with seeing them in the mayor’s commercial.
“Parks rules and safety concerns don’t allow for unattended personal items to remain in the park,” a spokesman said.
But when Kramer went to two other parks – one in Brooklyn and one in Manhattan – there were plenty of toys. Parents say it is up to then, not the city, to decide what toys their kids play with.
“I’m comfortable with assuming the risk and watching out for my child,” said Sarah Kagan. “I feel like that’s my responsibility.”
As a sop to the parents, the Parks Department said it might consider painting some games on the pavement sometime before the summer. But the kids want their toys back.