It’s the “People’s House” — they just can’t go near it.
Gracie Mansion has turned into a heavily barricaded fortress where NYPD blockades enclose over an acre of green space surrounding Mayor Bill de Blasio’s residence, fed-up Upper East Siders charge.
The mayor’s manse has been swarming with NYPD officers, cars and equipment since the George Floyd protests erupted at the end of May, but while the demonstrations have dwindled, security remains.
“It’s fairly absurd. Presumably it’s to stop protesters, but the barricades will be up at 9 am.. on a Wednesday. They come and go seemingly at whim,” said 77th Street resident Roy Atwood, 29, who runs along the East River Esplanade daily and is often deterred by the temporary metal fencing.
“The mayor closes streets for restaurants to open and people to have more space, but blocks off the public park around himself. It’s a frustrating use of power, and it doesn’t seem to make any sense,” Atwood said.
“Has anyone seen what the mayor’s done to Gracie Mansion?? A third of Carl Schurz Park is cut off to the community,” seething Upper East Sider Judy Rybak Tweeted Monday, along with a video of barricades stretching hundreds of feet down East End Avenue.
Councilman Ben Kallos, who represents Yorkville, said his office has received “dozens” of complaints about the barricades.
“Families who didn’t abandon our city, families who stayed, feel frustrated they don’t have anywhere they can go because Gracie has barricaded off an acre of our limited parkland. Families stop me in the streets, people in my building complain to me, we get phone calls, we get emails. People just don’t understand why the mayor is doing this,” he said.
A map showing Gracie Mansion/Carl Schurz Park closed to the public.Benjamin Kallos
“Gracie Mansion is already fortified. They have already increased the height of the fences,” Kallos said, referring to the 4-foot addition his fellow Democrat erected in 2014 for “privacy” reasons.
The mayor on Tuesday claimed that the NYPD was “reducing some of the precautions that were put in place previously.
“I can certainly say around Gracie Mansion, people have access to the water constantly,” de Blasio said during a Tuesday call with reporters.
Carl Schurz Parkgoers were confronted with a different reality no less than 48 hours later.
On Wednesday at 7 p.m., a 300-foot span of the newly renovated walkway along the East River was blocked off, photos show. A detour back to the Esplanade led people traveling in either direction to a flight of steps and back out to East End Avenue.
“Anyone using a wheelchair, stroller or bike can’t continue,” Atwood observed.
On Friday at 6 p.m., when the park was swarming with people enjoying the mild weather, two swaths of green space in front of the mansion — the Mayor’s Lawn and Flagpole Lawn — were blocked off to the public, along with the surrounding walkways and benches.
At nearly every walkway intersection and entrance to the park, there were NYPD barriers lying about, ready to be erected. Two NYPD smart cars sat parked on the Esplanade.
Some of the barricades surrounding Gracie Mansion.J.C.Rice
When asked about the Gracie Mansion barricades, the mayor’s office pointed to his support for protesters.
“The Mayor always protects the First Amendment right to protest. Some barricades have been set up by the NYPD in relationship to unscheduled and scheduled protests in the area. The park is open and we encourage New Yorkers to continue visiting beautiful Carl Schurz Park,” spokesman Avery Cohen said.