MANHATTAN — Yorkville residents are fighting plans by a developer to raze Ruppert Playground and replace it with a 49-story tower now that the 25-year deal to keep the privately owned space public has expired.
The Related Companies, which bought the land from the city in 1983, locked the park a month ago. But many residents rallied with elected officials outside it's shuttered gates on Sunday to demand the playground be reopened — and remain open.
The grassroots "Save Ruppert Playground" campaign has called on the city to designate the popular patch of asphalt and green on East 93rd Street, between Second and Third avenues, as a public park and give the developer another piece of land to build on instead.
Under the deal Related struck with the city, which park advocates claimed was made “behind closed doors,” the developer was only required to keep the space open to the public for 25 years.
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn issued a statement highlighting the importance of keeping the playground as “a resource for our children.”
She said, “That is why I am pleased to announce that we are in the process of setting up a meeting with the Related Companies and the Bloomberg administration, to discuss options that would preserve this playground for a community with pressing needs for open space.”
Quinn noted that Related did honor its agreement to maintain the space as a park “even beyond the period of time outlined in the original agreement,” she said.
“But this is so important. We must keep working to find an alternative that saves this park.”
A spokeswoman for Related told NY1 that it kept its end of the deal and is now is considering plans to develop the land.