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Gramercy Park Residents Declare Victory in Bar Fight

By Amy Zimmer | January 7, 2011 4:38pm
Gramercy Park
Gramercy Park
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DNAinfo/Amy Zimmer

By Amy Zimmer

DNAinfo News Editor

MANHATTTAN — Gramercy Park residents were serious about keeping things dry across the street from their beloved gated jewel of green space.

After hundreds of neighbors spent the past year fighting a wine license for 38 Gramercy Park, Arlene Harrison — the so-called "mayor of Gramercy Park" — declared victory.

The State Liquor Authority said they voted unanimously on Thursday to deny the application from restaurateur Cole Miller for a planned tapas restaurant and wine bar.

Neighbors worried that a bar on a narrow side street would hurt the area’s historic residential character and would bring traffic headaches and quality of life problems.

The SLA commissioners had read the many letters they received from members of the community, said Harrison, who formed the Gramercy Park Residents Group specifically to fight the proposed bar, and who is also a Gramercy Park Trustee and founder of the Gramercy Park Block Association.

The chairman of the State Liquor Authority said the neighborhood’s "uniqueness" was one of the reasons he didn’t think a bar would be "in the public interest," Harrison explained.

The SLA said in a statement that they did not approve the license because of "issues with the character and fitness of the licensees, and due to opposition from the community."

Miller, who also owns The House, a wine bar on nearby East 17th Street, was not unavailable for comment. He had told The Observer in May that confronting the community opposition was a "long, difficult battle" and he hired "three of the biggest traffic experts in the city" to allay residents’ fears about cars crowding the neighborhood.

Gramercy Park’s founder, Samuel B. Ruggles, imposed certain restrictions on owners around the park, Harrison noted in an email, "including restrictions on any properties being used for businesses that were 'offensive to the neighboring inhabitants.'"

"Indeed, every one who sent a letter, signed a petition, attended a community board meeting, testified, volunteered time or donated money to this worthy cause, can take pride in today's victory for Gramercy Park and the Ruggles Indenture of 1831," Harrison said.