Watch CBS News

N.Y. Lawmakers In Playground Fight With Mayor De Blasio

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- New York lawmakers are engaged in a playground fight.

A trio of lawmakers are continuing a back-and-forth dispute with Mayor Bill de Blasio and the city about reopening playgrounds.

On Monday, the New York City Parks Department made it clear: Playgrounds are still closed to keep the coronavirus pandemic in check.

Watch: Mayor Bill de Blasio Gives Daily Briefing

Video shows city workers welding a gate shut at Middleton Playground in Williamsburg on Monday following several break-ins. Break-ins were also reported in Midwood and Borough Park, CBS2's Lisa Rozner reported.

Later in the day, the Parks Department broke the weld, saying it was a temporary fix, and put up locks and chains.


That didn't stop a large group from breaking in again.

State Sen. Simcha Felder, Assemblyman Simcha Eichenstein and City Councilman Kalman Yeger put out a joint statement calling for the playgrounds to be reopened, saying they have clipped the locks, and will continue to do so until the policy is changed. It says, in part:

"The people have spoken and they are sick and tired of being ignored. With everything going on in the world, why is our mayor intent on making criminals of mothers and children in need of a safe space to play? If they lock these gates, we will cut them open again tomorrow, because we serve the people. Who do you serve, Mr. Mayor?"

CORONAVIRUS: NY Health Dept. | NY Call 1-(888)-364-3065 | NYC Health Dept. | NYC Call 311, Text COVID to 692692 | NJ COVID-19 Info Hub | NJ Call 1-(800)-222-1222 or 211, Text NJCOVID to 898211 | CT Health Dept. | CT Call 211 | Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Parents told Rozner parks are a must for their children.

"We live with large families in small apartments and we need our parks," Moshe Blume said.

"We're trying to keep safe, wearing the masks and, of course, after they are washing hands," parent Rimma Smorodina added.

Parents may be armed with wipes, but Mayor de Blasio said during his daily briefing Tuesday it doesn't matter.

"No, we're not going to allow people to take the law into their own hands. It just doesn't work. So people are not allowed to open up a playground that is not yet available to the public," he said.

The mayor said he is sympathetic about the issue, but at the start of the pandemic playgrounds were open and "it wasn't working effectively."

Playgrounds won't reopen until Phase 2, which is currently on track for June 22, at earliest.

"I've said I think it's going to take longer than that, just to make sure we're absolutely certain. But until the order is given, 'the playgrounds are open,' people need to stay off the playgrounds. It's not appropriate to take their own action. We're doing this so that we can get to Phase 2 and beyond," de Blasio said. "So I understand people's frustrations. But if folks act prematurely, and that causes the disease to start spreading again, then that's the kind of thing that will undermine our ability to get to Phase 2 and stay in Phase 2. So, I know it's not easy, but people have to understand there's a reason for these rules. It's to help us move forward."

Leaders that support the playgrounds being open told CBS2 they are not concerned about the disease spreading.

"How is it safe for thousands of people to be on beach? How is it safe for thousands of peopl to come out to protest? But it's not safe for our kids to play safely in the park?" Assemblyman Eichenstein said.

"The governor and mayor telling us it's ok to get on subway because every night they're going to shut it down and wash it down. They can't do that to the park?" Councilman Yeger added.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.