N.Y. Apartment Complex Residents Clash Over Bikinis

Residents of a private New York City housing development are annoyed that bikini-wearing sunbathers have taken over a play area reserved for kids.

Last weekend, security guards kicked sun-loving college students out of Playground 10 in Peter Cooper Village-Stuyvesant Town after a kids' soccer league complained. One New York University student in a leopard-print string bikini watched as guards told people to sit up and stop sunbathing.

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“This is so ridiculous,” Melissa DeBlasio, 21, told the New York Post. “The sun’s out. It’s summer. People are going to be tanning.”

“There’s just a lot of rules here, and they enforce them randomly,” Marymount Manhattan College student Kaya Gieniusz, 21, agreed. “We pay outrageous money to live here. Let us sunbathe for a few hours.”

The housing complex is made up of 91 buildings on 80 acres on the East side of Manhattan, where one-bedroom units rent for up to $3,555. It has recently started courting college-age tenants, a move that has irked many longtime residents.

"When is a playground not a playground? When it's being used by our college/university student population for sunbathing," resident and blogger "Stuy Town Reporter" wrote on May 4. "Playground 10 was almost half taken yesterday with sunbathers, effectively pushing out the kids who wanted access to that playground."

"This playground should not be used for sunbathing. And neither should the fountain area," the blogger continues. "We've heard that complaints were made, and now it's time for management to make sure Playground 10 is for playing, not for sunbathing."

Playground 10 isn't quite as kid-friendly as the name implies: The artificial-turf covered area in the middle of the apartment complex has no actual playground equipment.

Calls to Stuyvesant Town management were not returned by press time, but the head of the tenants association, Susan Steinberg, told the New York Post that she thinks all two-piece bathing suits should be banned.

“This used to be a very strait-laced community,” she said. “The sunbathing is tasteless, it’s not very classy, and it doesn’t belong in a mixed residential development.”

It's completely legal for women to walk around topless in New York State -- a point proven by Moira Johnson, who strolled around lower Manhattan for weeks last summer wearing an a-line skirt, "Jackie O" sunglasses, a pair of sandals, and nothing else. So, while some residents have called the scantily clad sunbathers "tacky," "horrible," and complained about being able to see too much, others point out that the teeny bikinis aren't really the problem. "I just wish they would move them elsewhere so older children can have a place to play baseball/football/soccer, which is the purpose this playground has historically served," commented Brooke McAnaney on the housing development's Facebook page.

"Bikinis, two piece bathing suits, any type of bathing suits, have NOTHING to do with the main issue here, kids see these and more at any beach," added Edmund John Dunn. "The real issue is adults lying around in a playground that’s designed for kids in active sports."

Though The Stuyvesant Town Report urged sunbathers to "think of the children!" some moms are just glad that the weather is finally nice enough for kids to play outside again.

“I’m OK with it,” one mom named Joanne told WCBS when asked about the sunbathers in bikinis. “Of all the things that go on in the city, that’s the least of my concerns.”

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