Deterring Vandalism: NYC Department of Parks and Recreation Taking Charge

By November 17, 2014 Blog, Parks No Comments

Keeping Vandals at Bay in NYC Park Restrooms

NYC-Busy-Park-300x225The New York City Parks Department is responsible for over 28,000 acres of land and over 1,700 recreation facilities, parks and other areas over the massive city’s five boroughs. As one may imagine, the parks department often has trouble with vandalism and product waste in public restrooms, particularly when it comes to the homeless population in the urban areas. Ray Acosta, the Deputy Chief of Operations for the Bronx, recently upgraded his bathroom fixtures and had some surprisingly dramatic results.

The OPS 1-Touch Dispenser Eliminated all Soap Dispenser Vandalism in The NYC Parks

In September of 2013, Deputy Chief of Operations Ray Acosta installed OPS 1-Touch soap dispensing units throughout the parks in his district (the Bronx), which has heavy foot traffic and a high homeless population. Prior to installing the upgraded soap dispensers, the previous park dispensers were often damaged, rendered inoperable and had to be repaired continually by staff members – costing the City of New York precious resources and taxpayer money.

However, after the installation of the tamper proof soap dispenser units, the change was noticeable and it was immediate. Acosta reported that the dispensers have not been damaged or vandalized successfully a single time since their installation. The OPS 1-Touch is backed by a five-year warranty against vandalism, but according to Acosta, the parks department may never even have to use it.

Foam Soap Versus Liquid Soap: Saving More Than Just Repair Costs

Deputy Chief Acosta realized savings beyond repair cost and staff maintenance time when his parks switched from liquid soap to the OPS 1-Touch’s foam soap units. The soap for these weatherproof stainless steel dispenser units last for over 2,500 uses, and Acosta’s park bathrooms had the same cartridges still in use after four months had passed.

With the homeless population being a special consideration in Acosta’s case, foam soap provided an extra benefit in the form of dramatically reduced levels of product waste. The homeless visitors to the restrooms were using the liquid soap to bathe and wash themselves and their clothes, making a mess in the park’s sinks and causing the department to go through high volumes of soap.

With the installation of the OPS 1-Touch secure soap dispensers, this behavior stopped, as the foam soap is not suitable for washing clothes, personal items or the entire body due to the dispensing amounts and instant lather. The reduction of homeless people using the restroom for grooming and personal item washing helped put the restrooms back into the hands of the general public at large, for whom the facilities are meant to service.

Foam Soap Saves Both Water & Energy

Foam soap cuts energy costs in the form of water as well. According to National Purity, a person washing with foam soap may use up to 45 percent less water than a person using liquid soap because the lathering is instant. Less soap and water down the drain also reduces environmental waste and might cut down on plumbing problems. In the NYC Parks Department case, the water reduction is more significant due to the cessation of the homeless grooming in the restrooms.

Lastly, foam soap helps serve the interest of public health. Since the soap instantly lathers upon use, it is easier for users to coat a wider surface area of their hands when washing. Per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, proper hand washing is on the front line in the battle to prevent harmful germs and bacteria from spreading. Busy public bathrooms can become a literal hotbed for germs, especially during the flu season, so try foam soap to help keep everyone a little safer.

The Need for Theft Proof Soap Dispensers

The OPS 1-Touch is bolted securely to the wall using an 8-bolt mounting system, so visitors cannot pull or pry it from the wall. Its slanted and sleek design eliminates sharp points and does not have a top surface that can be used to hold items or be used as an ashtray. The units do not have small parts, such as levers that can be pulled off, and the easy to use push activation makes operation a breeze. Since the contents cannot be accessed without a special key, facility managers do not have to worry about wasted or contaminated soap.

Heavy gauge stainless steel, such as the 14 or 16-gauge used in the OPS 1-Touch’s construction, is an attractive, sanitary and resistant material. Other material types, such as cement, can offer some of the benefits of stainless steel, but with drawbacks. Materials that are porous or less durable than stainless steel will break under physical force or crack with age.

Concrete dispensers are enjoying some popularity in homes, but do not fare well in public settings. The dispensers are heavy and can be used as weapons or for self-harm. Concrete does wear and break down with exposure to moisture over time, and a person who exerts enough physical force can damage or even break concrete into pieces, especially after the dispenser has been repeatedly exposed to wetness during normal use.

Sometimes, visitors do not break soap dispensers just as an act of vandalism alone. Those with addictions may try to get at the soap inside your units if the soap contains alcohol. The OPS 1-Touch offers alcohol-free foaming refills for any facility that may have a particular need to address this problem, including parks and facilities that offer addiction recovery services. According to Acosta, the OPS 1-Touch is perfect, not only for park systems, but any place with a busy public restroom.

Contact the experts at Vandal Proof today to learn what the OPS 1-Touch soap dispenser can mean for your facility. Whether you need to curb vandalism, reduce product waste, cut down on staff bathroom maintenance time or all of the above, the OPS 1-Touch will help you meet and exceed those goals.

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