An out-of control Parks Department supervisor in Queens is forcing employees to drive a hazardous truck that is endangering workers and the general public park employees charge.
Several park workers say Park supervisor Yvonne Esposito was insisting employees use a dangerous vehicle with a number of serious safety violations.
The Ford two-door pickup with more than 102, 600 miles has several large rusted holes in the floor board with exposed wires including a two foot long hole, and warn away seat cushions have partially been replaces with cardboard boxes and sponges.
One of the rusted holes is large enough to pass a foot and leg completely though the bottom of the vehicle and onto the street.
Rusted holes in floorboards with exposed brake and fuel lines on the drivers side of the Parks Department 2000 Ford two-door pick up truck. Workers are being forced to drive a city vehicle more appropriate for a scape yard.
Workers also complain of noxious fumes and mold.
And that's not all workers are forced to use a large ten pound Belgium block paving stone to hold down the seatbelt and help prevent the seat from moving forward.
On a recent trip cardboard placed to cover up one of the holes on the driver side floor board had disintegrated and caused water from the street to splash up into the vehicle and onto exposed brake and fuel lines.
The truck was recently transferred from Flushing Meadows - Corona Park to Cunningham Park in Queens where it was being used throughout park district 7.
Several workers also said they were afraid to speak up for fear of reprisals by Esposito.
I can't beleive it, what the hell is this," said Parks worker who was recently instructed to drive the dangerious truck.
The seat immediately came forward every time you slowed down or stopped.
. I am very upset about it but I just wanted to do my job. We are afraid to say something.
Local 1505 Parks worker union president Dilcy Benn finally put her foot down on Friday and demanded the vehicle be taken out of service.
"All they cared about was getting the work done they didn't care about how it was done, if anyone got hurt," Benn said.
The Parks Department press office did not respond despite repeated requests for comment.
A New York City Parks Department truck that was used as recently as last week has a seat belt anchored by a brick and rusted holes in the floorboards so large that workers inside the vehicle could see straight to the ground, according to the New York Daily News.
The Fred Flintstone-mobile is a veritable death trap — a yabba-dabba-don’t for terrified workers.
No Magic Trick. A parks worker puts his hand through the rusted floor board of the truck on the drivers side.
“I got people who could be killed being forced to use this vehicle, and there’s no accountability,” said Dilcy Benn, president of Local 1505, the union that represents city Parks workers.
The 2000 dark-green Ford pickup — adorned with the Parks Department logo — has 102,695 miles on it, and it is clearly a rough ride. The floorboards are eaten by rust on both the driver and passenger sides. The truck has exposed brake and fuel lines running underfoot and ripped-up seats stuffed with cardboard for cushions.
Two workers were told to use the pickup truck last week to spread salt around Queens’ parks ahead of the snowstorm. The pair took one look at the rusty wreck and tried to beg off. But their supervisor, according to Benn, forced them to use the truck.
“A supervisor picked this vehicle up at another borough garage, drove it to Queens and gave it to workers in this condition and was not held accountable,” said Benn.
“I don’t want my workers driving a death trap.” A Parks Department spokesman said the truck — officially known as vehicle 5719Q — was taken out of service for repairs after Benn called with concerns.
“My workers were already out in the vehicle dropping salt, and I had to call back three times before the supervisor finally took it out of service,” said Benn.
The agency says vehicles are removed from the fleet on a case-by-case basis, depending on specific conditions. Drivers are required to inspect vehicles before using them and report any safety or mechanical issues, the spokesman said. The agency’s fleet of 579 pickup trucks have two maintenance inspections annually in addition to a state motor vehicle inspection, he added. The average age of the fleet’s pickups is eight years, city officials said.
According to Benn, union members have had problems with poorly maintained Parks vehicles before.
In May 2012, veteran Parks worker Curly Robinson, 63, was nearly mowed down when an agency van he left idling popped its gear and rolled toward him. Robinson said he was thrown against another truck and then dragged several feet before the runaway van stopped.
“I had problems with that truck slipping gears all the time. It was never fixed, and it always was put back in service,” said Robinson, who added he was forced to retire for medical reasons after the accident.
The Parks spokesman confirmed that a van with the same identification number provided by Robinson was in an accident on that date and at that location but no other details were available. Auto safety expert Byron Bloch reviewed the pictures of the rusted Ford truck and said it raised questions about Parks’ maintenance efforts.
“I would not go into that truck, it’s a definite hazard and should be taken off the road,” said Bloch. “It’s actually an embarrassment and tells me there’s terrible maintenance of the vehicle.”
The extensive corrosion of the floorboards posed the biggest risk, he said. It indicated a weakened structure that would buckle easily on impact.
“That could turn a survivable crash into a fatality,” he noted.
Geoffrey Croft of NYC Park Advocates said the poorly maintained vehicle was an accident waiting to happen.
"It’s unconscionable that the city would put their own people and the public in such danger,” he said. “This is outrageous, and the people responsible must be held accountable.”
PARKS & WRECK! City crews' death trap truck has seat belts
anchored by bricks, rusted holes in floorboards
NYC Parks Dept. truck seems a death trap with crumbling floor, seat belts
New York Daily News - January 9, 2014 - By Ginger Adams Otis