Audit shows dangers at Philly rec centers

June 18, 2008 5:23:35 AM PDT
Kids have plenty of fun places to play in Philadelphia, but as it turns out, the city's recreation centers haven't always been the safest option. From exposed wires to impalement hazards, an audit released today by the city's controller shows that in many cases, the facilities were downright dangerous. City Controller Alan Butkovitz said, "Children are supposed to be able to be children in these facilities. They're supposed to be able to rough house with an assurance that it's safe. Somebody could get killed."

Strong words but if a picture is worth 10,000 words than the controller's report contained volumes of problems. Investigators found backed up plumbing, filthy housekeeping, crumbling structures, fire hazards, extinguishers last inspected 15 years ago, and boxes of apparently new extinguishers that were never installed.

Among the most troubling - multiple cases of exposed electrical wiring, locked fire exits, metal poles the controller says could impale a child, and an uncovered open pit just steps from a playground swing set. That pit has since been welded shut.

Susan Slawson took over as recreation commission just days ago. She is not pleased with what has been found.

The department says improvements have been made and more are coming.

Slawson tells Action News, "Some of those have already been corrected, let me say that... I just need to finalize and make sure they've all been taken care of."

The controller says the recreation department has been under staffed and under funded for years. The department is expecting to get some additional funds this year, but the new commissioner certainly has her work cut out for her.