In Park Slope, Mixed Reactions to de Blasio’s Move to Gracie Mansion

The de Blasio family said “logistical and security concerns” contributed to their decision to move from Park Slope to Gracie Mansion. Their 11th Street neighbors had a lot to say about it.

By Brianna McGurran

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Photo by: Brianna McGurran

Bill de Blasio’s neighbors in Park Slope had mixed reactions to the mayor-elect’s decision to move to Gracie Mansion, which his family shared in a statement posted on the mayoral transition website today.

“It’s kind of awesome to have him in the neighborhood,” said Julie Brunner-Cross, 44, who lives one block from the de Blasio family’s home on 11th Street.

But Brunner-Cross said she is glad there won’t be too much media attention in the neighborhood now that the First Family is moving.

“I think it would have turned 11th Street into a little bit of a circus,” she said.

The de Blasio family said “logistical and security concerns” contributed to their decision. “It’s a practical choice but one that we make with respect and gratitude for the people of New York City,” they said.

Many of de Blasio’s neighbors said the realities of living in Park Slope justified the decision.

“If he lives at Gracie Mansion, his security detail will have a gated area to drive into,” said Clayton Patrie, 34, a personal trainer who lives on 15th Street. “Now there’s nowhere for them to even park so it’s not that practical.”

John Nickle, an illustrator who was walking his dog today on the corner of 11th Street and 6th Avenue just a few feet from the de Blasio home, agreed.

“Part of me likes that he would stay here because he’s one of us,” said Nickle, 56. But he said he was concerned the de Blasio home would turn into a target for crime. “I totally understand the security issues.”

Some didn’t think the additional police and media presence would be a big deal.

“I think it would be awesome if he stayed in Park Slope,” said Amanda Ventresca, 27, a barista at Café Grumpy on 7th Avenue. “It’s already a fairly bustling neighborhood. I don’t see it getting any crazier.”

De Blasio has made living in Park Slope an important element of his identity. He started his political career there in 1999, when he was elected to serve on his local school board, which runs from Carroll Gardens to Sunset Park in Brooklyn.

He and his wife, Chirlane McCray, bought their home on 11th Street between 6th and 7th Avenue in 2000. He was elected in 2001 to represent District 39 on the City Council, where he served for eight years until being elected public advocate in 2009.

Since the mayoral election on Nov. 6, there was some speculation that de Blasio would remain in Park Slope to demonstrate his neighborhood ties. But Pola Martin, a dog walker who lives on 4th Street, wasn’t worried de Blasio would lose touch with his roots.

“I think he’s the mayor and he’s supposed to be living in the big house. It’s logical,” she said.

“People make a big deal about everything.”

It was widely reported that de Blasio’s son Dante was concerned that his commute to Brooklyn Technical High School in Fort Greene would be longer if the family moved to Gracie Mansion on the Upper East Side. But neighbors said they didn’t think that will be a problem.

“I think it’s a reality for kids in New York City. You have to travel to go to a good school,” said Tim Smith, 54, who lives on de Blasio’s block.

Phil Englander, 59, the owner of a woodworking shop near 7th Avenue, agreed. “I’m sure his son will find his way to school just fine.”