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The Mayor of Gramercy Park Refuses to Play Hard Ball

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Who is in charge of preserving the exclusivity of Gramercy Park, one of two private parks remaining in New York City? According to the Times, it's Arlene Harrison, founder of the Gramercy Park Block Association and one of five members on the park's board of trustees. She has remade the two-acre expanse in her own image, we're told, and she lives on Gramercy Park East in an apartment bought in 1971 for "around $68,000," and which she's quick to point out is worth "millions" today. So, what have we learned?

On laying down the law: "She has added to a list of regulations (no dogs, no feeding of birds, no groups larger than six people, no Frisbees or soccer balls or 'hard balls' of any kind) that, in turn, have served to dictate how the park is — and is not — used."

On the conversion of the Salvation Army's women's boarding house on Gramercy Park South to luxury condos:"One of Will Zeckendorf's best friends lives in my building and I liked him. I like what they did with 15 Central Park West ... It will change the neighborhood for the better. It will be less use on the park."

On turning down offers for playground equipment: "Too much wear and tear. But do you know what? The children who grow up here learn to use their imagination."

On dogs not being permitted in the park: "They love to walk around it."

On nobody actually using the park: "It was always an ornamental park. A lot of people don't even go in to enjoy it. They're so thrilled just to see it. It's like a hotel room with a view of the ocean."

The president of the National Arts Club, on the clampdown on events in the park: "There used to be concerts and dance recitals in the park, but Arlene Harrison is afraid of who'll show up."
· The Guardian of Gramercy Park [NYT]

15 Central Park West

15 Central Park West, Manhattan, NY 10023