New York, NY – A neighborhood park will be getting the first full renovation and redesign in decades thanks to more than $8.9 million in discretionary funding from local elected officials. Funding comes from Council Member Ben Kallos, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, Council Member Keith Powers and from the City Council through Speaker Corey Johnson. Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, Community Board 8 and NYC Parks, as well as community stewards for Ruppert Park from the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce, Muslim Volunteers for New York and nearby Knickerbocker Plaza all joined in heralding the announcement.
“Ruppert Park has needed an overhaul since I was kid and no one wanted to play there. As a dad in the neighborhood, this is the closest park where I can take my 3-year-old daughter and even she gets bored here. I can’t believe it took my lifetime, but Ruppert Park is going to get a complete redesign to become a destination park in the neighborhood that everyone will want to go to,” said Council Member Ben Kallos. “Thank you to Speaker Corey Johnson, Council Member Keith Powers, Assembly Member Dan Quart, Congresswoman Maloney, the Parks Department and the community for their partnership and investment in Ruppert Park.”
“The pandemic has illuminated the importance of well-maintained public space in our neighborhoods. For decades, Ruppert Park has been a jewel of the Upper East Side. I am proud to have helped secure funding for its renovations and look forward to spending time there for years to come,” said Council Member Keith Powers.
“Living in a city, the importance of access to public parks and green open spaces cannot be overstated. Ruppert Park is more than a place for exercise and recreation, it’s a real community space that many Upper East Side families rely on, including my own,” said Assemblymember Dan Quart. “Today, I'm proud to stand with my partners in government to ensure that our beloved local park gets the overhaul it deserves and is welcoming, functional, and beautiful for years to come.”
“The COVID-19 crisis made abundantly clear just how essential open, outdoor spaces are to New Yorkers. I am thrilled to announce the $8 million dollar allocation for Ruppert Park renovations. These funds will go towards a new pathway, updated equipment for the children to play on, and other upgrades to make it a more accessible and family friendly space. Ruppert Park is beloved by children, dog owners, and neighbors who are just looking for a peaceful outdoor oasis,” said Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney.
“The complete renovation of Ruppert Park will provide the Upper East Side with a more dynamic, vibrant, and welcoming outdoor space,” said NYC Parks Manhattan Borough Commissioner William Castro. “We are proud to begin work on this project, and we thank Council Member Kallos, Council Speaker Johnson, Council Member Powers, Borough President Brewer, Assembly Member Quart and Congresswoman Maloney for their support and advocacy for redesigning this neighborhood park so it better serves the community.”
Originally, the location was the site of the Jacob Ruppert Brewing Company that spanned from 91st to 94th Streets between 2nd and 3rd Avenues, established back in 1866. The Ruppert brewery was closed in 1965 and demolished in 1969. In 1975, Mayor Abe Beame dedicated Ruppert House, an Urban Renewal Plan funded in joint partnership between the city and Federal government for 100% affordable housing to house 1,500 middle income families in a mix of limited equity cooperatives and rental apartments.
Ruppert Park, which is adjacent to Ruppert Towers, was built in 1979 by the City's Housing Preservation and Development Administration and transferred to NYC Parks in 1997. It last received $192,000 in funding from then-Council Member Gifford Miller for new benches, sidewalk repairs, planting areas and play equipment. Nearly a quarter of a century later, the park is overdue for an overhaul.
On May 20, 2021, after providing the initial discretionary funding allocation of $2.5 million, Council Member Kallos joined NYC Parks in hosting dozens of residents at a public scoping session to discuss details relating to the redesign of the park with the community and hear their input.
Visioning Session Feedback from Meeting:
Over the years, residents have worked to improve existing conditions. Nancy Ploeger worked tirelessly for nearly a decade to care for the park while leading the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce. Rita Popper, President of the Knickerbocker Plaza tenants association across the street, worked alongside now-deceased David Rosenstein to improve conditions in the park, including recent budget advocacy for funding. In 2017, Muslim Volunteers of New York began hosting quarterly clean-up events at Ruppert Park. Partnering with Council Member Ben Kallos who provides modest funding, they now host concerts to liven up the park as well.
“Ruppert Park is an essential and cherished open space with a wonderful playground. The pandemic has made us appreciate more than ever the important role our parks and playgrounds play in enhancing New Yorkers’ quality of life. Community Board 8 welcomes the $8 million that has been allocated to improve the park and looks forward to working with the community and elected officials on seeing this effort through as part of our ongoing fight for more open space in our neighborhood,” said Russell Squire, Chair of Manhattan Community Board 8.
“Despite providing an essential open public space for our neighborhood, Ruppert Park's design shortcomings have resulted in the majority of the space to be unusable. Our community needs every inch of parkspace possible and it is long overdue for Ruppert to be turned into a park that is safe, welcoming, and functional. We applaud the City's allocation of $8 million dollars to redesign Ruppert Park, and stand alongside our neighbors ready to assist in bringing this project to fruition. We also thank our elected officials, the many advocates and fellow community members who have continued to fight for the future of this park. There is no doubt that Ruppert Park - and our community - have brighter days ahead thanks to this critical investment,” said Tricia Shimamura and Barry Schneider, Co-Chairs of the Parks and Waterfront Committee for Manhattan Community Board 8.
“I am thrilled to see this commitment to improving the park. It has great potential and has needed funding for years to give the community a clean, friendly, green space to be used by all,” said Nancy Ploeger, Executive Vice President of the International Women’s Entrepreneurial Challenge Foundation. “It is ideally located as many families and seniors cannot make the walk all the way to either Central Park or Carl Schurz Park. Thank you to all those who are supporting this effort!”
“Ruppert Park is a welcome oasis in an area with very little open green space. Thanks to Council Member Kallos, the renovation will revitalize the park and provide enjoyment for everyone in our community, and that includes our canine friends,” said Rita Popper, President of the Knickerbocker Plaza Tenants’ Association.
“Ruppert Park is a beloved green space in the Yorkville/Upper East Side area and one of the largest parks in the neighborhood. It provides a much-needed respite for the community throughout the day from the children’s playground to the quiet nooks where people of all ages can enjoy lunch or a good read and more. Its importance became highly magnified during the pandemic,” said Muslim Volunteers for New York (MV4NY). “As Stewards of Ruppert Park and with the support of the Parks Department and Council Member Kallos, MV4NY has served the park since 2017 with comprehensive Park beautification and cleanup initiatives and community entertainment events. Ever since MV4NY has consistently advocated for capital funding and long-term investment in the Park. We are delighted and grateful that Council Member Kallos has allocated this significant amount for the Park’s revitalization and improvement.”
Originally proposed as a two-phase masterplan to revamp the park, the $8.9 million project is now fully funded with $5.3 million from Council Member Kallos, $200,000 from Council Member Powers, $100,000 from Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, and $3.3 million from the City Council including Council Speaker Johnson and the Manhattan Delegation. Council Member Kallos and Powers advocated for this funding from Speaker Johnson as part of the 2021-22 budget. All of the elected officials have worked alongside Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, who has been a leader in securing funding for parks in New York City.
Moving forward, a design plan will be presented to the public at Community Board 8 and the Public Design Commission in 2021. The project is expected to begin construction in 2023.
WATCH THE ANNOUNCEMENT