Wednesday, November 9

Park Dispute Dating Back to the Moses Days

            An East Side co-op released its ownership claim of a 10,000 square foot piece of land overlooking the East River, last Tuesday, finally ending a 10 year dispute with the city.
            In the agreement, the apartment building owner has agreed to share the $2 million cost of building a public park on this piece of land, located between 56th and 57th streets.
Photo by Google Images
             This site has been in dispute between the co-op owners and the parks department ever since the city tried to claim a portion of the land for public use, ten years prior.
            In a joint statement announced on Tuesday, the Sutton Place South Corporation and the city have decided to contribute $1 million each to the park’s construction.  The park is said to connect two existing community parks on the ends of 56th and 57th street.
            “Every square foot of parkland is precious, particularly on the Upper East Side,” said Adrian Benepe, commissioner of the parks department, told New York Times. “I’d say, in the long run, it’s worth the protracted negotiation.”
            Dating back 70 years, the yard has a history of its own.  In 1939, the city was planning to build part of the Franklin D Roosevelt Drive in this location.  However the city promised to build a park over the FDR Drive’s roof so that the residents in this area would not have to be disturbed by the constant drone of passing cars.
            The Sutton Place South Corporation since had been renting that patch of land for a dollar a year until the lease expired in 1990.  In an effort to keep the status of the real estate quiet, however, the co-op swore potential buyers into secrecy.  Eventually the city tried to take control of the space and in 2007 the co-op dropped a lawsuit on the city, arguing against the amount of land in which the city was entitled.
            “This has been something very special to the building for a great deal of time,” said Lucy Lamphere, president of the Sutton Place South Corporation, told the Times. “However, it became clear that something needed to happen.”
            Now, under this new agreement, the co-op is planning on releasing its ownership of the part of deck that’s closest to the East River.  In return, the city is releasing its claim on the section of deck closest to Sutton Place South’s apartment building, leaving them less than 4,000 square feet.
            The city plans on using this newly acquired land for a park, mostly intended for quiet leisure, hoping to start construction within the next year.

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