WHAT IS A LAND TRUST?
A non-profit organization of community representatives legally empowered to act on behalf of the community, to campaign for the transfer of lands to the Land Trust, for permanent protection and preservation as natural open spaces. The Land Trust while legally protecting and insuring that the land will forever remain as a community garden, allows each garden to have its own garden life and rules, in which the Land Trust has no jurisdiction and does not interfere. Since the City owns the land and will not hand over the land to individuals, the Land Trust offers a legal and non-profit mechanism by which the community can truly protect the land and its specified use as a garden forever. There are examples of successful Land Trusts formed to protect community gardens in Boston and Philadelphia.
WHAT IS PERMANENT SITE STATUS?
Permanent Site Status provides an officially designated status of protection under the Parks Department. However, this designated status can be revoked should development become a priority. As the 6th & B Garden received Permanent Site Status in May 1996, this may prove to be a viable and easier option. Trust For Public Land can answer questions at (212) 677-7171.
In spite of the fact that there are over 10,000 publicly owned vacant lots in New York City, nearly 600 gardens city-wide remain unprotected and are at risk of being sold to developers. The need for low cost housing is often cited as a reason for destroying gardens. In reality, most new buildings contain very little, if any, low income housing. Developer Donald Cappocia, who plans to build on Esperanza Garden, has already bulldozed 4 community gardens on the Lower East Side, replacing them with “80/20” housing, where 80% of the units are priced at market value while only 20% are set aside for “low income” housing. After 10 years even this small percentage can climb back up to market rate. (Text by Jennifer Whitburn)
WHY A LAND TRUST AND PERMANENT SITE SATUS?
It is a fact that many of the gardens are currently threatened by development plans. 9th & C, 10th BC and Green Oasis gardens all are on a list for proposed housing sites, ABC garden was destroyed for a development project in January 1996, and leases now clearly state that they can only remain on the site until a development project begins construction.
As the entire neighborhood is targeted for development projects, some that would displace the low-income community, and would destroy the peace, tranquility, a vital open space that is necessary for a livable community, a Land Trust, among other options such as Permanent Site and Parks Department status, are solutions to save the gardens permanently.
Since November 1994, The New York City Garden Preservation Coalition has been working on this proposal, a collaborative effort of hundreds of gardeners and over 5,000 thousand community supporters. The full land trust proposal includes photos, history and information of these locations, as well as a video tape.
These gardens provide an invaluable natural, as well as cultural resource, for thousands of people in the community, including: needed open space, fresh air, trees, and flowers; outdoor environmental and gardening classes for school children; multi-cultural centers, featuring theater, music, arts programs, public festivals and events; inter-faith churches for religious ceremonies, weddings and funerals; healing centers for seniors, the handicapped, and those dying of AIDS; and a place to grow vegetables, needed food supplements for many people.
The gardens have also removed the drug dealers from these former untended vacant lots, removed sites of toxic waste dumping, reduced crime by attracting children on the streets and engaging them in a positive life affirming activity, and relieved tensions that exist between the diverse cultural and special interest groups by uniting people through nature to get to know one another and discover their common interests and goals.
As The New York City Administration Further Slashes The Budget For Social Services, Why Destroy The Gardens That Are Providing Millions Of Dollars Worth Of Social Services To The Community For Free?
The gardens have thousands of supporters in the community who believe that the gardens’ environmental, social, and cultural positive impact for the past 25 years in the community can not be destroyed. To destroy these ecological treasures, would only ruin the quality of life and value of the neighborhood for everyone. In addition, open space only increases the value of surrounding real estate, so for real estate developers and city planners not to recognize the value of what already exists is short-sighted.
The magnificent New York City Gardens are an ecological landmark, recognized world-wide. They contribute not only to the health, well-being, peace, and beauty of the community, but also contribute to the economic prosperity and value of the neighborhood. The New York City Garden Land Trust and other preservation options offers the community a resource that benefits the rehabilitation of th entire neighborhood, that can truly serve the people by protecting their quality of life they have strived to create over the past 20 years, the value of the neighborhood, and an exemplary city model of ecological balance for the 21st century.