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Neighbors want the de Blasios to stay in Park Slope
While Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio considers a move to the elegant Gracie Mansion from his Park Slope row house, residents on his block would like to keep the first family as neighbors.
De Blasio said Wednesday that he must consult his family before deciding on a move. He noted that his 16-year-old son, Dante, who attends Brooklyn Tech High School in Fort Greene, is concerned about the commute to school from the Upper East Side.
But there are residents of the quiet tree-lined block on 11th Street who said Thursday that they wanted de Blasio, his wife Chirlane McCray and their family to stay in Park Slope, and would miss their friendly presence should they depart for Manhattan.
"Bill and Chirlane are our neighbors. Before and after, they're still our neighbors," said Rosalie Schoeller, a 68-year-old speech therapist.
A resident of the street, filled with row and town houses, for about 35 years, Schoeller said she enjoyed chit-chatting with the de Blasios, who can often be seen running their errands.
"He lives his philosophy," she said of de Blasio's man-of-the-people style. "He's not isolated -- he does his own chores."
George Arzt, a political consultant, said that sticking around Park Slope would further that reputation.
"As a populist mayor, it would be a great move," Arzt said.
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.
"He ran on this 'tale of two cities' kick," said Marshall Ratner, 44. "Staying here is almost part of his message."
Robert Lopez, a 45-year-old fashion stylist, was proud that New York City's new mayor hails from the block where he grew up. Lopez, who lives in an 11th Street and 7th Avenue building 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?" Lopez said, adding that living by de Blasio could boost property value.
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, a 44-year-old occupational therapist.
The one downside residents expressed about living next to 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, similar to how Mayor Ed Koch visited his Greenwich Village apartment.
Still, there were neighbors who thought the de Blasios deserved to move into new digs befitting of New York City's mayor.
"It's been a while since anyone was in Gracie Mansion," said 68-year-old Eileen Winslow, an 11th Street resident and retiree from Methodist Hospital. "It could use a little company. A nice family in there, that'd be great."
(With Tim Herrera, Sheila Anne Feeney, Perry Santanachote)