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Hunter College's Private Park May Reopen to the Public

By DNAinfo Staff on April 21, 2014 4:32pm

 Poses Park on East 68th Street could provide open space in an area where it is serioulsy lacking.
Hunter College Park May Reopen to Public
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UPPER EAST SIDE — A park that is currently only available to the Hunter College community may soon open to the public once again.

Poses Park, an open space with several seating areas and bike racks, is located on East 68th Street between Lexington and Third avenues. Currently, members of the Hunter College community are the only ones who can access the park by using their ID cards to swipe in at the gate.

Community Board 8 and State Assemblyman Dan Quart are working to change that.

The space, named for CUNY official Jack Poses, has been open to the public in the past but was closed after the September 11 attacks due to security concerns. In 2005, the park was reopened for public use between the hours of 10:30 a.m. and 2:30 pm., but Hunter administrators chose to close the park to the public entirely in 2009, according to Board 8.

CB8's Park Committee recently reached out to Hunter College about making the park publicly accessible again as a part of its Open Space Initiative, a project aimed at finding or converting more open spaces for public use in the neighborhood.

Patrick McKenna, director of external affairs for Hunter College, said the school administration was taking the request seriously and hoped to reach a compromise with the community regarding use of the space, according to the April committee meeting records. McKenna noted that Hunter needed to explore security issues related to reopening the park; particularly how to ensure that unauthorized individuals can’t enter the Hunter College building adjacent to the space.

Poses Park has also become a popular option for students and staff to safely store their bikes. The college installed several bike racks in the secure area after a rash of bike thefts in 2011, the college’s paper The Envoy reported in February 2012. 

According to park advocates, the Upper East Side is starved for open space. In City Council District 4, where Poses Park is located, there is a quarter of an acre of open space for every 1,000 residents, said a 2013 report by New Yorkers for Parks. The same report shows that most New York City neighborhoods have 2.5 acres of open space for every 1,000 residents. District 4 is especially lacking in passive public spaces, the type of use that Poses Park provides.

McKenna said he would return to the parks committee in May to provide an update on the situation. He did not return requests for comment from DNAinfo New York.

Quart has also taken up the cause, advocating for making the space public in discussions with Hunter officials. He is hopeful that a decision will be reached soon.

“I’m pleased at the possibility of more open space in our community,” Quart said in a statement. “My office has worked closely with the CB 8 Parks Committee and Hunter President Jennifer Raab’s office to make this park a reality, and I expect that we’ll see that happen soon.”