It’s nothing short of outrageous that the city of Schenectady has had to close its popular, handicapped-accessible kiddie playground in the height of summer because of a problem it knew about nearly two years ago.
Granted, before a spate of negative media coverage finally made its telephone ring yesterday, the city had been getting something of a runaround from the subcontractor who, in the fall of 2008, installed the $141,000 rubberized floor for the Central Park playground.
As yesterday’s Gazette story detailed, the floor began to sprout potholes almost immediately (after all, this is Schenectady). Patches were made last summer, but on April 9 this year, a representative of the Ohio-based company came to town, acknowledged that the floor had to be replaced, and promised to do the work as soon as the weather became more hospitable. (The reason the floor apparently failed is that it was laid during a too-cool, too-wet stretch of weather, and the adhesive never took.)
But the promise went unfulfilled for weeks, then months; and more than three months later, the floor had deteriorated to the point where the playground had to be closed. (Funny, the city doesn’t do that with its roads, at least some of which are also liabilities.)
Though the city’s law department became involved as early as last year, it all too willingly accepted the subcontractor’s repeated assurances that he would remedy the situation. Patience can be a virtue, but at some point — long ago — the city should have toughened its stance.
Something else we’ve endorsed in the past when the city does business with out-of-town or unproven contractors is the idea of requiring performance bonds. Then, it has some recourse when problems occur, and taxpayers aren’t left without services they’ve paid for.
There’s never a good time for a place like Tiny Tot Land to be off-limits to the children of Schenectady, but it’s hard to imagine a worse time than the middle of July. And though the contractor has promised to put on extra workers to get the job done faster, the work is still not expected to get under way for another two weeks. Perhaps in the interim, the city should ask that he provide Tiny Tot families with alternative entertainment, like free movie passes.