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De Blasio: Gramercy Park's 'Unusual' Status 'Should Be Reassessed'

Inside Gramercy Park
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Inside Gramercy Park Jessica Lehrman / Gothamist

Mayor Bill de Blasio said that the City should "reassess" the 108-year-old court decision that gives Gramercy Park a special tax-free status as a private front lawn.

"The bottom line is, we can safely say that people in that neighborhood are doing very well, and the park access is a very unusual situation in this city. And it should be reassessed, it’s 2018," de Blasio told Brian Lehrer Friday morning during his weekly Ask The Mayor segment, in which he also suggested that the federal government "abolish ICE". "If it’s based on 100-plus year law of course we should reassess it and make sure that equity is governing our decisions and not a broken tradition."

The mayor was responding to a question from Lehrer about the recent Gothamist/WNYC investigation showing that the justification behind the 1910 court decision—that property values for homeowners with park access were considerably higher than their neighbors, so they shouldn't have to pay a tax on the park land itself—is no longer applicable. The Department of Finance could not say whether they were capturing the value of Gramercy Park in the keyholders' property taxes.

"We’re right now in the middle of attempting a major reform, a major overhaul of our property tax system, because it clearly is inconsistent and lacks transparency, particularly between different geographical areas of the city," the mayor said.

"So with the City Council we have named a commission to propose an overhaul of the property tax system that then would have to be voted on ultimately in Albany and some pieces in the City Council, so this is a good time to look at the question of Gramercy Park as well."

Arlene Harrison, a Gramercy Park Trustee and the founder and president of the Gramercy Park Block Association, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

For more, read the first part of our investigation, our methodology behind the analysis, and our history of Gramercy Park's inception.

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