Photo: New York City Department of Parks & Recreation

Liquor bottles, drug baggies and used condoms are just some of the things left behind in Astoria parks overnight.

Astoria parents believe the city is not doing enough to protect their children. There have been numerous incidents of parents entering parks to play with their children in the morning and finding a mess left behind by vagrants who visited the park overnight, reports CBS2 Local.

Jenn Schulte, a parent with a 2-year-old daughter, reported finding everything from used condoms and wrappers, to used drug paraphernalia, and once found a homeless man sleeping on a mattress left behind in Sean’s Place in Astoria.

What was once a convenience for parents has now become a nightmare. Schute recalls her friend’s 2-year-old daughter finding a crack pipe in a corner of the park, and running around with it in her mouth, playing with it.

Though the city says parks and playgrounds are meant to be closed at night, few if any are ever locked, even if the gates are closed. Sean’s Place has a posted closing time of 9 p.m. Though the city workers come to clean the park each day, they do not arrive until mid- or late morning, well after the park’s opening time.

This is not a recent problem. As far back as 2012, Astoria was experiencing similar problems in Sean’s Place. Parents want the city to step up and make some changes, for the health and safety of their children.

Councilman Costa Constantinides has proposed a bill requiring every gated playground to be locked by the Parks Department each night. The proposed bill will be introduced before the start of the summer. 

The Parks Department has been working with communities and the NYPD to identify and lock certain parks when needed. Constantinides believes the locks will deter many of the vagrant visitors.

“It’s a lot harder to scale a fence than it is to walk through a front door. It will deter behavior,” he added.

Schute stressed that this was not just an aesthetic concern.

“This is not just about this being a dirty playground,” she told CBS2 local. “This is a huge safety issue.”


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