From: Arlene Harrison, President, The Gramercy Park Block Association
Date: May 17, 2013
Re: Statement from the GPBA urging CB6 Parks and Landmarks Committee to call on the New York State Attorney General's Charities Bureau to act to keep The Players from closing.
The 125-year-old Players Club, founded by esteemed Shakespearean thespian Edwin Booth, is "in imminent danger of closing" according to a March 14, 2013 report from the member-led Financial Audit Committee. The club, which has lost "nearly $3 million over the past nine years", has been "threatened by bad management policies and a declining membership" that is alarming to anybody who cares about Gramercy Park and the cultural life and theatre history of New York City.
The survival of The Players, located at 16 Gramercy Park South, is critically important to the visual impact of the Gramercy Park Historic District. The 1847 mansion is not only an individual landmark; it contributes in a major way to the streetscape that surrounds Gramercy Park. The renowned architect Stanford White's magnificent fašade, which has been under repair and less visible for over a year, has been a hallmark of the historical continuity of the neighborhood. At present, we may be dealing with "demolition by neglect".
The Attorney General's Charities Bureau mission includes "supervising charitable organizations to protect donors and beneficiaries of those charities from unscrupulous practices in the solicitation and management of charitable assets" and "supervising the activity of foundations and other charities to ensure that their funds and other property devoted to charitable purposes are properly used."
Based on this mission, the Attorney General should feel an obligation to intervene in this tragic situation on behalf of the people of New York City and New York State.
Time is critically important. This is an urgent need that must be addressed by the Attorney General. Once the club passes the point of being rehabilitated, it will be an irreversible loss.