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UES Residents Rally to Keep a Privately Owned Playground Public

Sunday, October 16, 2011

A group of Upper East Side residents rallied Sunday to show their opposition to a plan to raze a playground to make way for a new building based on deal made over 25 years ago.

"The Campaign to Save Ruppert Playground" wants the city to negotiate a deal to re-acquire the East 93rd Street land from The Related Companies, a real estate development company that plans to build a 49-story building at the site.

Related Companies spokesperson Joanna Rose said the company lived up to its agreement with the city to maintain the privately-owned space for public use for 25 years.

But campaign organizer Oscar Fernandez said the 1983 deal was done "behind closed doors against the community's wishes."

"That deal of selling that open space in an area on a district that, even then, was ranking last in parks and open space, and today even more so ranks last with all the construction and buildings that have come up since then, and now it needs the open space more than ever," he added.

Fernandez said the group wants to sit down with the company and talk about keeping the space "open." But, Rose said preparatory site work "precludes further public access."

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