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Cuomo pauses city plans to move East Harlem playground to build schools, residences as jurisdiction questions arise

ALBANY – City plans to relocate an East Harlem playground to make room for two new schools and a residential tower have been put on hold by Gov. Cuomo.
Late Monday night, Cuomo formally signed off on legislation approving the transfer of the Marx Brothers playground — but only on the condition that an investigation be conducted first to determine whether the land is actually a park.
While the playground and full-sized athletic field at East 96th Street and Second Avenue has traditionally been considered a playground under the jurisdiction of the city Education Department, the Cuomo administration, in doing research on the matter, found evidence that it was actually a park and should be governed by the city Parks Department.
“We are concerned that a park’s zoning properties could facilitate alienation to private real estate developers,” Cuomo wrote in a memo made public just after 1 a.m. Tuesday. “Classification as a park or parkland should not provide zoning bonuses to private industry.”
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