The donnybrook over the Wormy Chestnut Wood, a legal battle between New York City and the family of the restaurateur Warner LeRoy, is over. And just in the nick of time according to the New York Times.
A day before the three-day auction of some 25,000 items from Tavern on the Green, a federal bankruptcy judge ruled late Tuesday that a valuable 3,800-square-foot trove of rare chestnut wall paneling belongs to the LeRoys, who ran Tavern until their license from the Parks Department expired on Dec. 31. The judge said it could be sold in the three-day auction of items from Tavern that begins Wednesday in the shuttered landmark restaurant in Central Park.
Mr. Kinel added that the committee was of the opinion that the city “continues to engage in unnecessary, time consuming, expensive and largely frivolous legal battles against Tavern on the Green and its creditors,” he said.
But in court the city’s lawyers have rejected suggestions that the landlord’s claims are frivolous, saying that the city is entitled to ownership of its own park property — the restaurant — and the Tavern on the Green name, which was bestowed on the restaurant in 1934 by the parks department.
Although the city had argued in court that the removal of the paneling would irretrievably damage “the quality of the space,” Judge Gropper chided the city, noting that the parks department had solicited new Tavern operators last year who would propose a new décor for the restaurant. “Since the city seems to desire a change in the quality of the space, it is particularly inappropriate for it to claim” that removal of the paneling “would damage the old décor,” Judge Gropper ruled.