Sunday, September 11, 2011

Community Rallies To Save Ruppert Playground

Neighbohood residents site poor planning on the city's part that allowed The Related Company to buy two parcels of land in 1983 for $ 10 million dollars in a community board that ranks dead last in publicly accessible open space. (Photos: Geoffrey Croft/NYC Park Advocates) Click on images to enlarge.


By Geoffrey Croft

Chanting, "Save our park, save our Community. Stop Related," more than 150 people came out on Saturday to protest the Related Company's planned seizure of Ruppert Park. The community is demanding the real estate giant abandon plans to close a popular park on Monday, September 12th in order to to erect a 49 story building in a community that ranks dead last in the amount of parks and open space in the entire city! Participants are demanding the city negotiate a deal to acquire the land back that never should have been sold in the first place.

Children, parents and seniors were joined by City Council Members Daniel Garodnick, Jessica Lappin, and State Senator José M. Serrano and Liz Krueger for the rally.

City Council Member Daniel Garodnick addresses the crowd.

For more than 30 years the park has played a vital role in the lives of countless people. In 1983 the City sold the land to The Related Company in a behind-close door deal against the community's wishes. The deal was orchestrated by a former HPD official who went to work for Related. On June 30th, 2008, the 1983 Land Disposition Agreement between the Department of Housing Preservation & Development (HPD) and Carnegie Park Associates (The Related Companies) expired. The end of this agreement allowed Related Companies to develop the park.

The original 1968 Ruppert Urban Renewal Project Plan and subsequent revisions recognized the severe lack of park and open space which said contributed to "unsatisfactory living conditions" in the neighborhood. It also noted that "inadequate recreational and community facilities” were contributing to the “unsatisfactory living conditions to the immediate area and in general neighborhood." The plan was deeply flawed however as it fell significantly short in adequately addressing the community’s needs. Since the original Renewal Plan was created the need for parks and open space in the community has only grown worse. Density has increased dramatically as numerous high-rise buildings have been built in the immediate area. The Plan did not adequately factor in future development in the area nor its impacts.

The Related Company is one of the country's most successful and politically connected developers. They are very friendly with the Bloomberg administration and are involved with many projects that involve the City. One possibility is for the City to swap another piece of land in exchange for the Ruppert Playground property. This is done all the time.

Last Tuesday, The Related Company put up signs announcing its plans to close Ruppert Park on September 12th. (Photos: Geoffrey Croft/NYC Park Advocates) Click on images to enlarge.

Read More:

Upper East Siders Rally as Plans for 49-Story Residential Tower Progress
The Wall Street Journal - September 12, 2011 - By Maura Webber Sadovi

Related closes UES playground to begin residential development
The Real Deal - September 12, 2011

Our Town - August 19, 2009 - By David Schlegel

‘No’ to Tax Break Push for Related to keep Ruppert Park
Our Town - June 24, 2009 - By Zara Kessler

In a Dense District, a Park in Peril
New York Times - May 2, 2009 - By Saki Knafo

Upper East Side residents band together to save Ruppert Park
NYC Pavement Pieces - Spring 2009 - By Rachel Wise

UES Protest Proposed High-Rise In Local Park Space
The Epoch Times - April 27, 2009 - By Catherine Yang

Ruppert Rally Illustrated
Curbed - April 27, 2009

Developers May Raze UES Playground for Another Bad Creation
gothamist - April 27, 2009 - Billy Parker

Upper East Side Playground May Sprout 40-Story Tower
Curbed - April 27, 2009

East Side Park Fury
New York Post - April 27, 2009 - by Edmund Demarche

1010 WINS News Radio
April 26, 2009

Protestors target Related Cos. park project
Crains newyork business - April 24, 2009 - by Daniel Massey

Our Town - May 7, 2009

Report From The Community: District 8
Office of Manhattan BP - May 5, 2009 - By Dan Benjoya

Protestors want playground to stay
Metro NY - April 27, 2009 - By Patrick Arden

Upper East Side playground May Sprout 40-story Tower
USA Today - April 27, 2009

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