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COALITION NEWSLETTER JULY 1997

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ABOUT NYC COALITION FOR THE PRESERVATION OF THE GARDENS

NYC Coalition for the Preservation of the Gardens was formed in November 1996 in response to the bulldozing of several gardens, and the current threat to many more, by development plans throughout New York City. NYC Coalition is a city-wide network of gardeners, community members, schools, and organizations working together to preserve community gardens in all 5 boroughs.

While community gardens occupy less than 1000 city owned sites, there are over 11,000 vacant lots and countless abandoned buildings in the City’s inventory in all five boroughs. Because of the current administration’s mandate to sell off city-owned property, city agencies have chosen to look at property with thriving community gardens and instead of seeing community resources, they see only vacant developable lots.

Most of the 50 gardens on the Lower East Side of New York City, 25 gardens in Harlem and Coney Island, and 20 more gardens in Brooklyn and the Bronx are slated to be bulldozed, destroying the gardens and potentially displacing the low-income population of these neighborhoods.

The City has failed to acknowledge that community gardens represent more than the temporary use of vacant land. Community gardens have become important meeting places for New Yorkers, producing much needed green space, promoting environmental education, encouraging intergenerational and intercultural friendships, and helping to reduce crime by being the eyes and ears of our communities. NYC Coalition is working for the volunteer gardeners and the communities that benefit from these gardens. On February 13th, 1997, we sponsored the Save Our Gardens Day Rally, which drew over 500 people, and hand delivered hundreds of letters and petitions to elected officials. The rally generated response letters from Manhattan Borough President Ruth Messinger, Mayor Giuliani, and democratic mayoral candidate Sal Albanese. It helped to postpone the destruction of several gardens in Harlem, Brooklyn, the Bronx, and the Lower East Side, and generated media coverage, including a major article in The New York Times, March 27, 1997. Although we have had some successes, the City continues to add gardens to the list of lots to be sold or auctioned in the next year, and moves ahead with plans for market-rate development on many garden sites. As a leading preservation organization, our work will be crucial in the coming months. We hope that you will help us fight this fight and also help us to continue building the network of support we call NYC Coalition for the Preservation of the Gardens.

HERE’S WHAT YOU CAN DO:

  • Join NYC Coalition by contacting NYC Coalition for the Preservation of the Gardens, 638 East 6th Street, New York, NY 10009. Phone (212) 777-7969. Fax (212) 505-7303 E-mail: earthcel@interport.net or visit our web site: http://www.interport.net/~earthcel/
  • Fight back by helping NYC Coalition gather information for a lawsuit challenging the City’s destruction of precious open space in our communities. Fill out the Garden Inventory (see the Inventory addendum)
  • Get involved in the movement, sharing the information in this newsletter with your neighbors and other gardeners in your community. Make a donation of whatever you can afford to NYC Coalition to support the fight. Volunteer your time and talents by filling out and returning the Sign-up Sheet in this newsletter. To confront all of the areas needing attention, we have established committees including: Research, Outreach, Web-site/Internet, Events, Media, and Legal.
  • Attend monthly NYC Coalition meetings the second Wednesday of the Month at 638 East Sixth Street, 3rd floor (btw Aves B & C). For the summer meetings (July, August) we will be meeting in the gardens. The next meeting will be Wednesday, July 9th, 7pm at Project Harmony Garden, Harlem, 216 W. 122nd Street. Call for other meeting times and locations.
  • Join our list of supporters and endorsers. Have your garden or organization write a letter in support of NYC Coalition for the Preservation of the Gardens.

SAVE THE GARDEN LEGISLATION INTRODUCED IN ALBANY

Responding to the recent NY Times coverage of City plans to sell its community gardens for development, State Senator John Sampson of Brooklyn has introduced legislation calling for their preservation in accordance with the State’s Open Space Plan. The legislation calls for gardens to be protected as “park land” and prohibits sale of the spaces without Community Board approval. While the legislation is not expected to pass in this session, hearings can provide an opportunity for gardeners, garden neighbors, and other users to call attention to the wide range of neighborhood resources that would be lost if the spaces were destroyed. Garden Supporters should call Senator Sampson, thank him for his support and ask him to schedule hearings and keep you informed. (Senator Sampson (718) 649-7653)

In addition, letters addressed to Governor Pataki, recognizing his long-term commitment to open space, his support for the State’s open space plan which calls for the preservation of the gardens might help generate support for the measure. Remind him that the gardens cost the government almost nothing, and they are a model of neighbors working together to improve their own lives. Include a few lines about what your community garden means to you. Then ask him to reply to your concerns. (Send a copy of your letter to NYC Coalition, we may try to reprint it in a future issue of The Garden Gate.)

Governor George Pataki
The Executive Chamber, State Capitol
Albany, NY 12224
Fax: (518) 474-1513 Tel: (212) 681-4580

Additional letters in support of the NYC community gardens should be sent to:

Mayor Rudolph Giuliani
City Hall
New York, NY 10007
Fax: (212) 406-3587 Tel: (212) 788-3000

Fernando Ferrer, Bronx Borough President
851 Grand Concourse
Bronx, NY 10451
Fax: (718) 590-3537 Tel: (718) 590-3500

Howard Golden, Brooklyn Borough President
209 Joralemon Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201
Fax: (718) 802-3959 Tel: (718) 802-3700

Ruth Messinger, Manhattan Borough President
Attn: David Wang
Municipal Building, 19th floor
New York, NY 10007
Fax: (212) 669-4900 Tel: (212) 669-8300

Claire Shulman, Queens Borough President
120-55 Queens Blvd
Kew Gardens, NY 11424
Fax: (718) 286-2885 Tel: (718) 286-3000

Mr. William J. Diamond, Commissioner
Department of Citywide Administrative Services
1 Centre Street, 17th fl
New York, NY 10007
Fax: (212) 669-8992 Tel: (212) 669-7111

Hon Richard T. Roberts, Commissioner
Housing Preservation and Development
100 Gold Street
New York, NY 10038
Fax: (212) 386-6666 Tel: (212) 386-6482

Commissioner Joseph Rose
City Planning Commission
22 Reade Street New York, NY 10007
Fax: (212) 720-3219 Tel: (212) 720-3206

Mr. Peter Vallone
City Council, Speaker
250 Broadway
New York, NY 10007
Fax: 788-7207 Tel: 788-7210

PLEASE SEND/FAX COPIES OF LETTERS TO:

NYC Coalition for the Preservation of the Gardens
638 East Sixth Street, 3rd floor
New York, NY 10009
Tel: (212) 777-7969 Fax: (212) 505-7303

NYC Coalition members will be hosting events throughout the City this summer and fall to celebrate the beauty of our gardens and the creative talent in our communities. If your garden is planning an event please contact NYC Coalition with the date, time, place, and info about the event. Endangered Gardens Fact Sheet:

WHICH GARDENS HAVE BEEN DESTROYED?

  • On the Lower East Side: Adam Purple’s Garden of Eden (Forsyth Street bet Stanton and Rivington Sts) was destroyed on January 8, 1986, The Farm (Grand Street) was bulldozed in the mid 1970′s, the ABC Garden (8th St bet. Aves B & C) was destroyed in January 1996, the Sunnyside Garden (13th St bet A & B) in Fall 1996; and 5th Street Garden (bet Aves A & B) was destroyed, February 1997.
  • On the Upper West Side, the Dome Garden was bulldozed on May 24, 1994, despite support from elected officials, the community, and some celebrities. The Pegasus Garden, (Amsterdam and 89th Street) was bulldozed December 1996. WHICH GARDENS ARE NOW THREATENED?
  • Most of the over 750 community gardens of New York City are slated to be bulldozed for development plans. Many of the 50 gardens on the Lower East Side of New York City, 25 gardens in Harlem and Coney Island and 20 gardens in Brooklyn and the Bronx. Brooklyn Gardens threatened by Development include:
  • Twelve Coney Island Gardens are under threat of destruction. The Mermaid Garden was schedule to be destroyed June 11, 1997. Under immediate threat in Harlem: W The Five Star Garden, the Children’s Garden of Love, the Garden of the Golden Lions, the George W. Brown Memorial Garden (122nd Street), and the Joseph Daniel Wilson Memorial Garden (122nd Street) are slated for destruction in October 1997. Bronx Gardens threatened by development: W Also threatened in October 1997, the Hunts Point Farm. Lower East Side Gardens threatened by development and auctions:
  • Of the 20 Lower East Side Gardens threatened by development and auctions, three gardens are slated for bulldozing by mid-summer 1997 by HPD and the New York City Housing Partnership New Homes Project, for low-rise condominiums: 10th BC Garden, the Chico Mendez Mural Garden on 11th St bet Avenues A & B. and the 11 BC Garden. Also threatened with immediate destruction through NYC Partnership and HPD is the Rodriguez Community Garden on Suffolk St. bet. Rivington & Stanton.
  • In addition, La Plaza Cultural Garden on 9th Street between Avenues C & B is threatened by a 7-story market-rate housing proposal for new development (64 units LUXURY HOUSING/16 units LOW-INCOME & LOWER EAST SIDE GIRLS CLUB).
  • Approximately six more gardens on the Lower East Side are scheduled to be auctioned within the next year and the status of many others is pending.

SOME ACCOMPLISHMENTS

  • Saved Alberts Garden (2nd St. bet. Bowery & 2nd Ave., Manhtn) and Winners Circle Garden (4th St. bet. Aves. B & C, Manhtn) from slated auction on October 19, 1995.
  • Saved ABC Garden from destruction: (8th St. bet. Aves B & C, Manhtn) April 1995. Organized emergency support to stop the destruction of the ABC Garden slated for demolition by the Roachco Film Co.
  • Organized support to have CB3 recommend De Colores Garden on 8th Street and Amigos Garden on 3rd Street (bet. Aves B & C, Manhtn) for GreenThumb leases.
  • Appealed to City Council and had Amigos Garden removed from auction block.
  • Bear’s Garden, Boerum Hill, Bklyn (Cor. of Flatbush and Pacific Avenues) Won negotiation to keep a portion of the garden, but all plants were first removed awaiting excavation.
  • Magical Children’s Garden on Norfolk and Stanton Streets, Manhtn. City Planning Commission removed from auction block.

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