UPPER EAST SIDE, NY – Grassy lawns, a brand new playground, rest areas and other upgrades could soon arrive at Ruppert Park, the much-loved but poorly landscaped green space in the heart of Yorkville.
The changes were unveiled Thursday evening at Community Board 8, as the parks department presented details of the planned park renovation which was first announced in May. Officials described this week’s release as a “first bite of an apple,” with a final release due in January.
Stretching across Second Avenue between 90th and 91st Street East, Ruppert Park dates from the 1970s and is showing its age. Wide concrete paths and metal fences divide the park into four quadrants, including a patch of little used land converted back into a dog park; outdated play equipment limits children’s enjoyment in the park; hilly areas pose accessibility problems; and invasive vegetation blocks sunlight and attracts insects, among other problems.
After soliciting public comment, the city is now rolling out its $ 8.9 million redesign proposal, which will focus on a pair of passive lawns near the center of the park.
The playground will be moved from the west side of the park to its southwest corner, with a unique design that incorporates the park’s natural slope into a gazebo featuring a slide and “rock scramble,” according to Parks designer Alex Zervos. (The gazebo and the playground tower will both be wheelchair accessible.)
“We wanted to reopen these spaces and let them shine,” said Zervos, referring to the hilly and little-used corners of Ruppert.
Speaking of that slope: The existing steep central hill of Ruppert Park will be reclassified to be “softer,” Zervos said. Other changes will include a new spray feature near the playground, a number of solar-powered “Big Belly” garbage cans, new street lights, benches on the east side of the park, and the addition of new tolerant plant species to the park. The shadow.
A four-foot fence will be installed around the perimeter of the park, replacing the existing seven-foot fence that has been criticized as unwelcoming. Most of the park’s 88 trees will be kept in place, while a few unsanitary ones have been removed.
Enclosure for dogs, toilets are absent
Two elements were notably absent from the city map: a dog park and dedicated toilets. The town’s design leaves room for a future sanitary block with bathrooms, but Ruppert’s current plan lacks sufficient funds for the notoriously expensive facilities.
The lack of a dog park, meanwhile, raised concern among neighbors at Thursday’s meeting – both dog owners and other park users who said the lack of space dedicated to pets would pose sanitation issues in the rest of the park.
“We need to dedicate part of the park to meet the needs of dog owners because not everyone plays by the rules,” said Mubeen Siddiqui, co-founder of the Muslim Volunteers for New York group, which led the movement. for the renovation of Ruppert.
Once construction begins, it will take about a year, according to Parks manager Steve Simon, although he did not say when work would begin.
Most residents reacted warmly to the design after Thursday’s presentation. The $ 8.9 million figure includes $ 5.3 million allocated by board member Ben Kallos, a total of $ 3.3 million from board chairman Corey Johnson and the Manhattan delegation; $ 200,000 from Councilor Keith Powers and $ 100,000 from Borough President Gale Brewer.
“Now that I’m a dad with a 3-year-old, I’m in Ruppert Park, I would say every day,” Kallos said Thursday. Ruppert’s renovation could mark Kallos’ last major achievement after eight years on the board, as he is expected to step down on December 31.
The park occupies the former site of the Jacob Ruppert & Company brewery, which closed in 1965 and was replaced by the Ruppert Towers apartment complex – as well as the park, which opened in 1979.