Totalitarian Tendencies Feed Tensions at Gramercy Park
Dana Rubinstein May 17, 2010, 11:32 a.m.
So amusing—and bemusing—are the many feuds surrounding Gramercy Park, Manhattan’s only private greensward, that the subject is nearly irresistible journalist-bait.
Today, the Journal ran what must be the gazillionth article on the ongoing dispute between National Arts Club president O. Aldon James, who favors a more lenient and open-gated park management philosophy, and park trustee and self-appointed enforcer-in-chief Arlene Harrison. The subject matter never disappoints:
In addition to her official capacities, Ms. Harrison is a self-appointed warden. She walks the park every morning at 6:30 a.m., making notes on the conditions inside. She circles around to the doormen of park buildings-then circles back in case there is any news that needs to be shared. She returns to the park interior again later. “I come in from 3 to 5:30 to be with the children and the nannies. I talk to them,” she said. “I work seven days a week.”
Among the many over-the-top rules Ms. Harrison has taken upon herself to enforce:
No standing or sitting on the grass. No alcohol. No pets. No Frisbees, soccer balls, footballs or baseballs. No musical, theatrical or other entertainment unless organized by the trust. Wedding parties (no guests) may take photos-while standing only on the graveled areas.