Monday, April 12, 2010

Parents Fuming Over Brooklyn's Playground's 'Hot' Steel Attraction by Elizabeth Hays - NY Daily News

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Welcome to Brooklyn's hottest new playground.

Parents are fuming about the new playground in Brooklyn Bridge Park, which features metal climbing domes for kids that critics charge get scorching hot on sunny days.

"It's outrageous," said James Wagman, whose son, Matthew, 6, gasped the other day when he put his hands on one of the shiny structures placed in full sunlight. "My first reaction was, 'That's nutty. Why did they put that in a playground?'"

Julie Lundberg said her 20-month-old son Bode Bulhak burst into tears after he touched one.

"It was a pain cry," said Lundberg. "He was saying, 'Ouch, Ouch,' and his hands were all red," she added. "They need to fix it."

The steel domes are the main play equipment inside Brooklyn Bridge Park, which opened at the base of Old Fulton St. last month.

Park officials said they have hung signs warning parents to "exercise caution" on sunny days and insisted that several young trees planted near the domes "will supply shade in the coming weeks and alleviate this heat."

But critics said it was unlikely the small trees would provide enough shade any time soon - and worried the problem will get worse this summer.

"It's only April. Imagine what it's going to be like on a 90-degree day," said activist Geoffrey Croft from New York City Park Advocates, which has battled the city over too-hot black safety mats in playgrounds. "This equipment should be tested before it gets installed."

A joint Daily News and New York City Park Advocates investigation in 2008 found that black playground mats can top 165 degrees on hot days and cause scores of burns to kids each year.

Dr. Roger Yurt, director of New York-Presbyterian Hospital's burn center, said the park's metal play equipment could get even hotter.

"We know that the rubber mats are a problem. I would expect that steel in direct sunlight is even worse than what we've seen," said Yurt.

Parents wondered why the metal structures were installed in the first place.

"It's a pretty gross oversight," said Paul Catlett, 42, a tourist from Kentucky who visited with his son, Henry, 11. "Anybody who knows anything about steel knows it gets extremely hot with any kind of sustained exposure to sunlight."