Mayor-elect de Blasio's neighbors urge family to stay in Brooklyn
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While Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio considers a move to the elegant Gracie Mansion from his Park Slope row house, neighbors on his block say they would like the first family to stay there.
De Blasio has said he must consult his family before deciding on a move. He said his son, Dante, 16, who attends Brooklyn Technical High School in Fort Greene, is concerned about the commute to school from the Upper East Side.
But residents of the quiet, tree-lined block on 11th Street where the mayor-elect lives said Thursday that they would miss the friendly presence of the de Blasio family if they departed for Manhattan.
"Bill and Chirlane are our neighbors. Before and after, they're still our neighbors," said Rosalie Schoeller, 68, a speech therapist.
Schoeller, a 35-year resident there, said she enjoyed chitchatting with de Blasio, who can often be seen running errands. "He lives his philosophy," she said. "He's not isolated -- he does his own chores."
Residents agreed that staying in the neighborhood would be fitting for de Blasio, who campaigned on a need to change the tone of government after 12 years of Mayor Michael Bloomberg's sometimes prickly style.
"As a populist mayor, it would be a great move" to remain in Park Slope, said George Arzt, a political consultant.
"He ran on this 'tale of two cities' kick," said resident Marshall Ratner, 44. "Staying here is almost part of his message."
Neighbor Robert Lopez, 45, a fashion stylist, said he was proud that New York City's new mayor hails from the block where he grew up.Lopez, who lives in a building at 11th Street and Seventh Avenue that his father bought in 1978, said the area used to be rife with drug dealing and stick-ups.
"I'm honored to have a mayor on my block. Who wouldn't be?" he said.
Another boon to neighbors is the sense of security that comes with more police officers in the area.
On Thursday, while de Blasio was en route to Puerto Rico for the Somos El Futuro conference, a police officer was posted outside the home in a three-wheeled vehicle.
"There's been more cop presence here, even before he was elected, and I'm happy with it," said Catherine McKeon, 44, an occupational therapist.
The one downside residents expressed about living near New York City's next mayor is that police and government vehicles will take precious parking spots.
"The mayor-elect has to balance his affinity for Park Slope and his knowledge of the parking space problems of Park Slope," said Bill Cunningham, former communications director for Bloomberg.
Cunningham suggested that de Blasio "split the loaf" and divide his time between Gracie Mansion and Park Slope, much in the way that Mayor Ed Koch visited his Greenwich Village apartment.
Still, there were neighbors who thought the de Blasios deserved to move into new digs befitting the office. "It's been a while since anyone was in Gracie Mansion," said Eileen Winslow, 68. "It could use a little company. A nice family in there, that'd be great."
With Tim Herrera,
Sheila Anne Feeney
and Perry Santanachote