So What’s the Deal with Toys at Chapin Playground?

A few commenters (and Mrs. Fink) were wondering what the deal was with toys disappearing from the Harry Chapin Playground last month.  We’d reached out to the playground committee but received no response.   Over the holiday, WPIX-TV revealed that the NYC Parks Department is behind many of they toys being removed:

WPIX: But some parents are outraged that the city’s Parks Department has started throwing some of them out because they  “don’t meet our safety standards.”

Some parents say that if they are still in good condition why not just leave them for the children.  Some say the city needs to lighten up.

The Parks Department tells us in a statement: ”There was never a formal program to house donated toys at Chapin playground.  At our sole discretion, and in effort to maintain a safe play space, we discard items as they become broken or appear dangerous.”


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  • harumph

    My kids have outgrown Chapin playground, but when it opened it was such a nice alternative to Pierrepont playground, but through the years (and my second child) with all the debris of all the old toys, even my kids referred to it as the “Island of unwanted toys” and most were missing wheels, etc. Kids were constantly getting hurt tripping over the parts. I am happy to know that the Parks dept will keep it from being such an eyesore/mess.

  • Knight

    The Parks Department has an obligation to the taxpayers to remove any toys that it deems to be even remotely unsafe. Otherwise it exposes the City to lawsuits which ultimately get settled with our property tax money.

    Certainly the Playground Committee is not to blame! They are a volunteer group who use private funds in an attempt to make the local playgrounds a better experience for both neighborhood children and visitors. I think their efforts are always to be commended, especially since many of the volunteers and contributors are long past the days of having children who use the playgrounds.

    What is happening here is good. It is the Parks Department and the Committee working together to enhance our playgrounds while protecting us from overly litigious parents. I would encourage the BHB to post a link to the Playground Committee’s donations website so that they can help to replace the dangerous toys that the Parks Dept. rightly discarded.

  • WillowNabe

    If these toys were so dangerous, why did it take them years to figure it out and to remove the toys?

  • Mr. Crusty

    WillowNabe with a damned if you do, damned if you don’t response.

    No good deed goes unpunished. Parks Department did the right thing.

  • James

    Private belongings stored in public places – not a good idea and illegal. Perhaps the Parks Department and the city could also haul away the many bicycles, shopping carts, and scooters chained to public fences and trees in the neighborhood. If you don’t have room to store it in your apartment – don’t buy it. Just another way to shirk responsibility…

  • GHB

    If you’re going to discard your belongings in the playground, they’re garbage. If you want to keep your child’s toys, take them home when the kids are done playing.

  • Monty

    @James, they were absolutely not private belongings. They were put there for public use. Chapin playground is geared towards younger kids, so most likely these are all toys that had been outgrown by their original owners, but didn’t want to just chuck them in the garbage. I actually have a bunch of good condition toddler toys that my kids have outgrown and was planning to donate to this playground. Plan B is to put them on craigslist.

  • ABC

    Hmm. I saw these complaints on local parenting listservs and assumed they were by parents of 2 year olds who aren’t familiar with the regular seasons and customs of the local playgrounds.

    It is my memory that the Chapin toys get tossed every winter and new things brought in in the Spring. People I know — like me — always took their old big wheels or 3-wheeled scooters there in the Spring with the full intention that they get a few months of hard playing in before they’re tossed. Things often get tossed before Winter but anything that survives the whole year gets throw out by Parks when it gets cold. And, of course, if a parent sees something that has become dangerous, they need to toss it themselves right there and then.

    I’ll put in a word here that anyone using these playgrounds should consider an annual check to the Brooklyn Heights Playground Committee. easily done at

  • Gerry

    We would not let our children play with the junk at Chapin Playground.

    Playgrounds are for playing on playground equipment like a slide or a swing not some crummy old broken toys that no one wants.

    The only kids we see play with these toys are the ones who are tended by hired help who sit among each other speaking languages other than English and ignoring their charges working to get a green card not really caring for children.

  • yoohoo

    It’s easy: Don’t consider a public playground as your private space in which to depose of your toys. NYC Parks & Recreation has a responsibility to the public, namely, keep playgrounds safe, especially when every Dick and Harry brings a lawsuit.

  • j

    Gerry, was that rant really necessary? If these caregivers are that awful, doesn’t it really say more about the parents (who speak English and therefore should know better, according to your logic) that hire them?

  • Monty

    @Gerry, incorrect and a little racist. Nicely done. I bring my own children to that playground to play on the toys. My daughter learned to ride a tricycle there. She also loved the swings, slides and everything else. I really don’t understand your objection. And @yoohoo, as I said previously, it’s neither a dumping ground nor a personal storage area. They are donated for public use. There’s really no need to be a dick to people who are being generous. The liability argument is the only that makes any sense, but I find it unlikely that any of these toys are remotely dangerous or that the city could ever be held liable for a skinned knee.

  • WillowNabe

    What’s gotten into you? I see lots of parents in the Chapin playground tending to their own kids.
    Your remarks were uncalled for and very nasty I might add.

  • Gerry

    @ J, @ WillowNabe @ Monty – my remarks are the truth and nothing racist had been said these are my clear observations and thats a fact.

    i have seen more beautiful children sleep in a $300 stroller as the nannies have a gab fest in their own language – and I have seen more bloody noses, etc, from older children who fall then scream because they had not been supervised properly.

    Chances are these nannys are treated poorly and paid minimum wage – my dad used to tell me “you get what you pay for”

    Dont shoot the messenger my observations are painfully accurate.

  • GHB

    Gerry, Gerry, Gerry…

  • Thruxton

    I have watched your posts on here get more and more elitist over the last few months. You really need to check yourself. You are an arrogant racist fool.
    Do us all a favor and delete your cookies in your computer so that you can’t find the blog anymore as easily.

  • Mr. Crusty

    Surprise, surprise, we have Gery with yet another disgusting racist comment. What a reprehensible sad little man you must be to always put others down and hype yourself. Are you really that insecure?

  • MontTer

    Gerry is just envious that he doesnt speak another language and cannot understand what those non-english speakers are talking about him behind his back.

    Remember from the other thread today: He doesnt leave the US, travels only to Ocean City in his high end luxury SUV aka Nissan Murano.

  • Gerry

    @ Thruxton – I am not interested in your opinion of me.

    @ MonTer – Ocean City, NJ is a great place just a 3 hour ride safe, no booze a great place to relax.

  • Thruxton

    @Gerry- I find the fact that you are not interested in my opinion of you pretty ridiculous as you are the first to state your opinion and racist comments to everyone on this blog.

    How is it that yourself and your family living over on Montague Terrace are so much better than everyone else that you feel the need to talk about hired help as only wanting to get a green card? That is one of the most racist and elitist comments I have ever seen from you.

    Like I stated before you are an arrogant, racist, little man who is so unaware of the effect that his comments have on other people. How do you know that the non english speaking hired help isn’t reading this blog? I am sure you really don’t care anyway.

    I am totally fine with meeting up and having a chat about it in person and not on a public forum. But then you won’t have your keyboard for protection form the outside world that is so unsafe.

  • Mr. Crusty

    Gerry just brings out the best in everyone doesn’t he? Hey Thruxton if Gerry does take you up your offer please let me know as I think I would quite enjoy observing your discourse.

  • Thruxton

    I’m just sick and tired of reading the crap he spews. He won’t take me up on my offer as he would have to leave the safety of his home.

  • Anonymouse

    (1) I live on the playgrounds around here with my 2 kids. In 4 years, I have never seen a single incident of a bloody nose or any kind of physical accident that i’ve observed to be due to “neglect” by nannies.
    (2) Many parents WANT their kids exposed to the “foreign languages” of which you complain.

  • Mr. Crusty

    Ananymouse don’t listen to Gerry, he is the modern day equivalent of the village idiot that goes around ranting and raving at park statues. His comments have nothing to do with reality and everything to do with his racist, elitist, vile, nature.

  • Gerry

    @ Y’all — there is nothing racist about any of my remarks if my remarks are racist than they would be a TOS violation and deleted by the Brooklyn Heights Blog.

    Your perceptions of my posts are your problem I can not control how you feel if you dont like my posts do what Ii do with Mr. Crusty’s posts skip over them do NOT read them I ignore everything that ugly old freak Crusty posts you can do the same with mine.

    @ Anonymouse – For decades I have seen many a nanny ignore their charges in our local playgorunds and I have seen many a scraped knee a bloody nose children fall – if you dont see these types of occurances at local playgrounds then you must be looking in another direction.

    It is not a good idea to leave children with mimimum wage help who do not speak English and that is my opinion of which as an American i am allowed to have if any of you dont like my opinion thats your problem.

  • harumph

    I have have seen children completely neglected by their nanny/babysitters while they are socializing on every playground I have visited in this city. It is a fact, to say otherwise is just plain ignorant. I, myself, had a nanny who I later discovered not only ignored my kid but hit him…she only lasted 4 weeks bc someone saw her and reported back to me, but I assure you she was paid VERY well and her references were great. After that I made sure I only hired younger sitters from other families I knew had only good things to say. Oh and @Gerry, my nanny who I sacked only spoke English. You are wrong in your description of all these nannies/babysitters. What you stated is partially true, but to profile like that is racist.

  • harumph

    my mistake – I meant that I only hire babysitters with good references from families I know. No more blind references – they can clearly lie.

  • Matt

    Chapin Playground is one block from my front door. This is my third winter taking my child there, and the toys have never been cleaned out in this manner–total removal of any and all toys. Some toys were broken. Most toys were in good working order. Some toys were brand-new, with working electronics and working batteries, and had been donated just prior to Thanksgiving. I took my 2-year-old son to Chapin nearly every single day of the week. We are on Columbia Heights and Cranberry, and this playground is right across Cranberry–a one-minute walk from our front door. I definitely made some mistakes–I think myself, and other parents in the area who took there children there, should have been more pro-active in toys that were broken. I can tell you I spent a lot of time and energy picking up other kinds of trash in the playground: discarded juice boxes, food wrappers, napkins, etc. I never bothered about the toys. I never saw children being injured by the toys. I did see children get injured on the slides and monkey bars and ladders. These are far more dangerous than a plastic toy truck with a missing wheel, but we would not have the NYC Parks department remove the Jungle Gym, would we? The NYC Parks can do whatever they want. It is their land. No one has a right to donate a toy and not have it stolen or destroyed. NYC Parks has the protection of the law, and the righteous cruelty of those who follow the letter of the law to its sometimes idiotic conclusion. Some of the toys should have been removed. Some of the toys should never have been donated (such as the scooters, which the rules clearly state are not to be ridden inside the park). There are some disturbing issues with the decision NYC Parks made to destroy every single toy in the playground. It may serve the City of New York and its residents to consider things beyond the letter of the law. 1. No effort was made by NYC Parks to warn the community that all toys would be destroyed. 2. Most of the toys in the Chapin park were in good working order. Most of the toys in the park were plastic toy cars and trucks, plastic shovels, plastic buckets, and I would testify to this fact in a sworn affidavit and risk perjury. Again: most the toys in Chapin were not only in good working order, but were also harmless. If the toys at Chapin Park were dangerous, then we need to immediately shutdown FAO Schwarz and every Toys R Us in the five boroughs for the safety of our children. 3. Timing. This removal occurred in the week after Thanksgiving and the first month after Hurricane Sandy devastated parts of our city, killing men, women, and children, severely damaging whole neighborhoods, and destroying homes. 4. Taxpayer money. Again, see issue #3. Taxpayer money was spent destorying, wholesale, a hundreds of dollars worth of good toys, while thousands of New Yorkers spent Thanksgiving in a Red Cross shelter. 5. Lies spread by the NYC Parks department. The response of the NYC Parks department has been that, “Broken toys that did not meet our safety standards were removed.” This statement is a lie. Probably at least two dozen toys were removed. There was a scooter with a broken brake, which should not have been in the playground to begin with, and which I wish I had removed. There was a bicycle with a loose handlebar. That about the covers the two toys that might have posed a safety risk. I was teaching my son to ride the bicycle on that bike–it worked well, and it had training wheels. I was planning to bring my tools and try to tighten the handlebars. We do not go there any more. The fact that every toy was destroyed one night upset him. We go elsewhere now. Sometimes when you follow the letter of the law to a idiotic and thoughtless conclusion, you damage the community more than you help it.

  • harumph

    You really need to step back. Many of us have been to that playground throughout the years, not just in the one year you have been taking your son, and these toys are not always as you describe. This has been a multi-year grievance and I can assure you I know more than few parents through the years that have complained directly to the Parks Department. While I believe your son was greatly upset by the absence of toys that were not his to begin with – I am here to remind you that 2 year olds get pretty upset at just about anything at times. He will be fine, I’m more worried about you.

  • Mr. Crusty

    Matt quite frankly your post is ridiculous. You say the toys were “donated” to the park. Who were the toys brought to in the Parks Department for donation? Was someone tasked with examining the toys to see if they were both appropriate and safe? Or when you say “donate” do you just mean they were left at the park without any screening? If it is the latter, then anyone could drop off whatever they wished on city property for other children to play with? And you don’t see any problem with that? Well I do. The city has a responsibility for keeping park safe and that is not consistent with letting people drop off their used toys of various states of disrepair.

    And you know, you are just the type of person that would immediately sue the City if your child got hurt playing with a toy in the park claiming negligence and I would have to pay that nuisance suit through my taxes.

    Oh and your bring in the deaths caused by Sandy into the mix is truly special. How dare you?

    Sorry that your child was upset for two minutes. I’m sure he/she will recover.