By ERICA PITZI
6:06 PM EDT, September 20, 2011
SPRINGFIELD GARDENS, NY (PIX11)
A small patch of pavement on PS 251 is supposed to be a school playground, but most prison yards have better-equipped recreation yards.
"There is nothing for them to do but stand and sit on the concrete," said parent Nigel Green.
Green's 5 year-old-son, Nigel Junior, goes to the Springfield Gardens elementary school where the community's youngest students have been stripped of their playground.
It started in the spring when a local developer dug up the playground to run a sewer line to his properties next door to the school.
The city has since repaved the playground but has not replaced the equipment. All that exists is a few portable basketball hoops.
"It is very concerning to me," said Patricia Philandero.
What's worse, the school does not have a gym.
"There is nothing else for these kids. No outlet to vent," said Philandero. Green agrees. "Whoever is doing this, for them not to have any consideration for our children is ridiculous."
PIX11 wanted to know what the Department of Education is doing about this problem and found out the agency has plans to replace all of the playground equipment as soon as possible. But, there is a holdup because part of the property is owned by the Department of Environmental Protection. That means both city agencies need to come together to make it happen.
George Bradley of the New Springfield Gardens Homeowners Association has been an activist on this issue and he told PIX 11 he doubts the city will get this done. "When agencies are trying, usually nothing happens. They are exchanging memos, we want action."
PIX 11 caught with NYC Councilman James Sanders to see how he can help. PIX11 asked how he can get the two agencies together and he said, "We do it by using the city council. That is my job," adding, "I will get it done for these children."
Parents hope that happens and Philandero adds one final plea for all city leaders to hear: "Please come together and do it for our children."
The DEP got back to PIX 11 late Tuesday afternoon saying that it is in the process of arranging a site visit to the playground with the DOE so the two agencies can agree on equipment placement. The DEP says it has no problem with equipment on the playground but heavy items need to be strategically placed just in case the sewer line breaks and the DEP needs to repair it.
A date is not set yet for that visit.
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