EAST HARLEM, Manhattan — It was hailed as an unprecedented partnership between the City of New York and a private developer that involved converting a city park space into part of a mixed-income, mixed-use, high-rise building complex. For now, though, it appears to be yet another clash between Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio that some describe as a playground brawl.
Adding to the potential comic clash is the name of the public playing field itself. The Marx Brothers Playground is a 1.5 acre, astroturf-covered lot, complete with a soccer field and a baseball diamond named after the legendary comedy siblings, who grew up a few blocks away from the playground, which runs from 96th to 97th Street, between Second and First Avenues.
"This is public parkland," said Geoffrey Croft, director of NYC Parks Advocates and one of the city’s most vocal advocates for public access to city parks. "And what the city did was illegally rezone this land for development."