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Upper East Side Playground May Sprout 40-Story Tower

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Private ownership of public space is always a sticky situation, and a particularly nasty spat is brewing over the one-acre Ruppert Playground near the Ruppert Towers, at 92nd Street between Second and Third Avenues. Last week, a Curbed tipster sent along photos of some mechanical equipment dropped off on the tennis court, noting that posted permits allow for "test borings and test pits." The permits were filed by megadeveloper Related Companies, which owns the park and has maintained it for the past 25 years, as part of an agreement made with the Department of Housing Preservation and Development when Related built its Carnegie Park rental building nearby. That deal expired in June, and now Related is eying the plot for development. Some Upper East Siders would like to poke Related in that eye.

On Friday, Crain's reported that Related had interest in building a 40-story residential building on the Ruppert Playground, sparking outrage from neighbors and the New York City Park Advocates, which claims the neighborhood "ranks dead last in the amount of parks and open space in the entire city." A rally was held yesterday, and in its report, the Post writes that Related's plan is for a 40-story office building, though a residential building seems to make more sense given the location and the worse-off status of the commercial real estate market. Playground supporters are pleading with local assembly members and other politicians to step in and block any sort of development until the city can study the situation, but a Parks Department spokesperson already told Crain's, "The city does not have jurisdiction over private land that the developer owns." More photos from the scene in the gallery above. Paging Tom Wolfe!
· Protestors target Related Cos. park project [Crain's]
· East Side Park Fury [NYPost]