We have asked former Landmarks Commissioner, Park Trustee and Chair of GPBA's Historic Preservation Committee Rev. Tom Pike to explain the challenges we now face here on Gramercy Park. His remarks follow.
"As we look at the history of Gramercy Park we see different generations protected the Park in different ways. As we look forward, we see our generation has a new challenge. Area real estate developers are building very tall buildings to allow views of the Park because of the financial advantage it gives them. There are subtle issues that might surprise you. For example, when sunlight is diminished, it will affect the temperature. According to experts, there will be 'a 20-degree drop in temperature at that time,' making the Park less usable. Think of the Park in sunlight versus how it feels when the sun goes behind a tall building. Also, we will no longer be able to take for granted the breeze and fresh air that circulates in the Park, which will now be blocked by these buildings. Imagine the evenings when we will be encircled by a glass wall of windows from illuminated apartments. And just imagine facing a similar plight as our neighbors on the Upper East Side, who complain about their 'plummeting property values' as these tall buildings 'block their views, air and light.'
We've learned when building plans have been approved, it is impossible to change things. Therefore, our involvement as soon as possible in future decisions is critical. To take on this challenge, we need to study urban planning issues such as community planning, urbanization, city regulations, height and bulk. Although other cities have regulatory practices that involve oversight and community input, New York City needs to rethink its zoning policies and consider a more stringent and transparent review process for buildings that exceed a particular height."
Toll Brothers' 160 E 22nd St can be seen from Gramercy Park. Toll Brothers recently purchased the United Cerebral Palsy building at 130 E 23rd St, and is also developing the 40-story tower at 400 Park Ave South.
For the past two decades the GPBA has been at the forefront in fighting threats to Gramercy Park, and we have developed our preservation skills for just such a crisis as this. We are now planning to be at the forefront in defending the Park against this new challenge.
Our sunlight, blue skies and fresh air are being threatened. If you have not joined the GPBA for 2014, we need you to join now so we can fight together to protect Gramercy Park. The more members we have, the louder our voice, the greater our impact.
The GPBA Board of Directors
Arlene Harrison, President
Arthur Barnes Sean Brady Deirdre Connolly Harry Harrison
Norman Kurlan Lynne Lerner Judith Ludwig Rev. Tom Pike
Tara Rockefeller Kathleen Scupp Mark Tenniswood