Photo Courtesy of Comptroller Stringer’s Office
“NYC Parks must expand the number of these bathrooms in neighborhoods in need and provide the resources to bring existing facilities to an acceptable standard,” Comptroller Stringer said.
By Michael V. Cusenza
In addition to the decrepit state of myriad NYC Parks’ bathrooms, many New Yorkers are lacking access to these facilities at all—including in Howard Beach, Ozone Park, Richmond Hill, and Woodhaven, which are among the neighborhoods with the lowest number of park bathrooms, according to a searing new report released Thursday by City Comptroller Scott Stringer.
The analysis, “Dis-comfort Stations: The Conditions and Availability of NYC Parks Bathrooms,” reveals what Stringer characterized as “unacceptable conditions” at more than 100 New York City park bathrooms and a failure by the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation to maintain basic cleanliness. The report also found a severe shortage of bathrooms across NYC Parks’ properties, with Queens and Brooklyn experiencing the largest deficit. Access to NYC Parks’ bathrooms varies significantly across community districts; in 10 districts, there are fewer than eight NYC Parks’ restrooms for every 100,000 residents—with some even containing as few as four for every 100,000 residents.
“Our parks are essential public spaces, offering children, seniors, and all New Yorkers a safe and secure place to relax and enjoy the outdoors. But the City’s investment and maintenance of our park bathrooms is woefully inadequate. Our bathroom facilities should be comfortable—but our report reveals many of them just stink,” Stringer said. “Every neighborhood, including in low- to moderate-income areas, deserves quality public spaces. NYC Parks must expand the number of these bathrooms in neighborhoods in need and provide the resources to bring existing facilities to an acceptable standard. Here’s the bottom line—we all have to go. It is the City’s responsibility to make sure there is a safe, clean place to do so in our parks.”
Stringer’s report reviewed all 1,428 NYC Parks bathrooms in the five boroughs and found: nearly 400 sinks, toilets, walls, ceilings, changing tables, and other features were found to be damaged or missing in their latest inspection; and 100 bathrooms citywide were found to be in “unacceptable” condition by NYC Parks’ own metrics.
“Dis-comfort Stations…” also found that 53 “hazards” were discovered in NYC Parks’ bathrooms that could lead to “moderate to debilitating” injuries. These included: exposed wires, damaged or missing safety straps on changing stations, noxious odors, and insufficient lighting. Across the five boroughs, 38 bathrooms contained hazardous conditions, including 17 in Brooklyn, eight in Manhattan, seven in the Bronx, five in Queens, and one in Staten Island.
Dangerous and injury-threatening conditions are not the only problems that New Yorkers must contend with. NYC Parks inspectors also found 399 bathroom components that were in “unacceptable” condition. These included: 29 toilets, urinals, sinks, and hand dryers that were out-of-service; 23 soap dispensers missing or damaged; 23 ceilings, walls, and floors deteriorated; and 17 damaged changing tables.
And of the 207 NYC Parks’ bathrooms with at least one feature in unacceptable condition, 57 were in Queens, 57 were in Brooklyn, 49 were in Manhattan, 37 were in the Bronx, and seven were in Staten Island.
As part of the report, Stringer offered recommendations to the City for reform, including upgrading existing bathroom facilities, installing changing stations in all 1,428 bathrooms, and building out new facilities in underserved areas throughout the five boroughs—such as Howard Beach, Ozone Park, Richmond Hill, and Woodhaven.