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Community Board 6 approves Asser Levy park

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Community Board 6 approved the Parks and Recreation Department’s proposal to convert the two-block stretch of Asser Levy Place into a new park for Manhattan’s East Side last night.

Asser Levy Place, which runs parallel to FDR Drive between 23rd and 25th streets, will host a variety of facilities geared towards providing fitness and leisure to the East Side residents in the park come December of 2013.

The design includes construction of a track, a multipurpose play field, concrete ping-pong tables, outdoor exercise equipment and seating and planting areas.

Parks Department spokesman Philip Abramson said the conversion is part of a larger piece of land sold to the United Nations.

“The demapping of Asser Levy Place as a street and its mapping as a park was authorized by state legislation enacted last year, as part of a package of park projects required in conjunction with the proposed United Nations Consolidation Building to be constructed on a portion of Robert Moses Playground at 42nd Street,” Abramson said.

Earlier plans laid out by the Parks Department allotted $500,000 to transform Asser Levy into a play space, but these funds would have done little more than block off the street to traffic. Therefore, city councilman Daniel Garodnick allocated an additional $1 million in city funding, making the total budget for construction $1.5 million.

NYU adjunct professor of planning Sarah M. Kaufman said the conversion will enhance the use of public space within East Side neighborhoods.

“I think that the east Midtown area is really lacking for outdoor space,” Kaufman said. “[The conversion] is a great way to get people out of their houses, exercising and enjoying the city.”

Ashley Syed, a Tisch sophomore and Gramercy Green resident, agreed with Kaufman and expressed an interest in visiting the park for exercise.

“I think I might visit it after the renovation,” Syed said. “I do yoga, and it’ll be cool to have a place to practice it outdoors right in my neighborhood.

At last night’s meeting, only one board member Lou Sepersky abstained from voting. The rest of the members voted in favor of the park.

Sepersky choose to neither support nor op- pose the proposal because of the lack of a pub- lic voice at the last meeting when the proposal was first brought up.

“The matter was not on the agenda of the committee. The public had no chance to address the issue,” he said. “Therefore, it has to be reverted back to proper presentation to the committee.”

The other board members argued that in the past, issues not listed as a presentation were still approved and moved to allow the Parks Department to continue with their plans. Their next step is to make a presentation to the Public Design Commission. The Parks Department hopes to get approval by the end of November and begin construction in the spring of 2013.

A version of this article is in the Thursday, Oct. 11 print edition. Bennett Watanabe is a contributing writer. Email him at [email protected] 

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