We love it when an itty-bitty concrete city park gets in the way of larger agendas, only because we hope that it results in the park's users receiving a totally overcompensatory parting prize. In what will be marked as one of the least ironic moves of New York development ever, the city wants to bulldoze the Robert Moses Playground on 42nd St. and 1st Ave. to construct a 35-story tower. So far, the primary interest group blocking the plan from progressing is a roller hockey league that's been using the park for decades and is unhappy with a proposed East River promenade as a replacement.
If only this could be just a municipal affair, but no such luck. The proposed 35-story tower is intended to be occupied by U.N. personnel, and while Doctoroff and Bloomberg are pushing the plan, with the possible support of the East End Hockey Association as long as its playing space is replaced, the city is actually powerless to proceed, no matter if the roller hockey league wants it or Bloomberg himself demands it. New York City may not dispose of city park land without the permission of the state's legislature, and Albany is not in the habit of green-lighting anything U.N.-related.
We feel this is worth following because it is one of those rare instances when political wrangling over an otherwise unremarkable rectangle of concrete involves parties ranging from local dog walkers to the world's reigning diplomatic organization. With both Rudy and Hillary running for the White House, we expect the story to gain additional attention in the near future. The U.N. wants to expand its facility on the East River. The Mayor and city officials are ready to generate jobs, skyline, and prestige. And not that they asked to be in the middle of it, but a roller hockey league has found itself in a pivotal, if not decisive, role of diplomatically determining the fate of Manhattan's East Bank. If the U.N. can successfully navigate this tangled web, perhaps it is destined to broker even greater peaces.