NYCHA considering tearing down newly renovated playground to build high rise

CHELSEA, Manhattan (WABC) -- A new playground took four years and more than $700,000 to build - but it has not even opened to the public yet. Now, NYCHA is considering tearing it down so a new high rise can be built it its place.

The old playground on West 17th Street in Chelsea was so bad that parents at the sprawling complex were afraid their kids would get hurt on the equipment. Back in 2015, the state set aside the money to fix the area, put in new benches, sprinklers and barbecue grills.

"I was excited - the park renovated because it was deteriorating little by little, this park," says Tenants Association President Miguel Acevedo.

Construction began last summer. The playground is supposed to open June 1st, but now the entire project is in jeopardy. It is part of a larger plan that NYCHA says will generate at least $168 million for desperately needed repairs.

In one scenario, the brand new playground would be torn down so a new high rise could go up in the spot - it would be where 72 families already living in the complex would move.

Critics were furious, but NYCHA stresses that was just one option on the table, and that nothing is set in stone.

"We value any resources that we're given and playgrounds are important, but that being said, from our perspective, nothing is off the table, and we want to be able to present them with every option out there," said David Pristin.

The rest of the plan calls for two more buildings going up that would be mixed-income apartments run by NYCHA and a private management company.

While Acevedo is for the big-picture project, he tells Eyewitness News this part should have been handled differently.

"Now it seems like wasted money, so is this money ever going to come back, is the developer going to replace it and give it back to the state assembly who funded the money? We need to make sure another park is renovated here in Fulton Houses," he adds.

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