CONTACT: Sarah Ferguson
LOCATION: 10th Street between Avenues B
December 31, 1997
We're sad to report that "Little Puerto
Rico" was bulldozed today.
D-DAY FOR "LITTLE PUERTO
Over the past 8 years, members of the 10th Street
and Avenue B Garden have transformed what was once a
rubble-strewn, rat-infested lot into a vital green
space and cultural center. But on AUGUST 15, the city
plans to DEMOLISH the 10th Street Garden , the Chico
Mendez Mural Garden on 11th Street and Avenue A, and
two smaller gardens in order to build a series of
four-story, duplex condominium.
Not only will this development destroy desperately
needed open space, but it may jeopardize the safety
of neighboring tenements.
The city and the developer, New York City Housing
Partnership, claim the condo's, -priced between
$120,000 and $160,000 and subsidized with city, state
and federal funds-will alleviate the housing crisis.
They say these condo's, supposedly slated for
middle-income families earning up to $71,000, will
help "stabilize" the community.
What is being ignored is the role the gardens have
played in stabilizing the community. The 10th Street
Garden serves a densely crowded, predominantly Latino
block. It provides a safe haven for children to play
and neighbors to interact AT NO COST TO THE CITY.
Everyone agrees we need more housing. But why
destroy existing gardens when there are other empty
vacant lots and abandoned buildings? Why build
four-story duplexes with private, 30-foot backyards
in an area where most of the tenements are five and
six stories? If the city and NYC Partnership are
truly concerned about the housing crisis, why not
build taller and more densely so as to preserve more
land for community space?
NO COMMUNITY INPUT: Gardeners and local
residents are outraged that they were given no
opportunity to raise their concerns about this
project prior to its approval. When the Partnership
plan went before Community Board 3 last September,
neither the gardeners nor adjacent property owners
were notified, and afterwards, many CB 3 members
admitted they did not know they were voting to
eliminate gardens. The actual plans for the condo's
were only presented to the community board AFTER the
project had been rushed through the City Council.
When the project went before the Council, the gardens
were represented as vacant, "blighted"
NO ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT STUDY: The land
where the 10th Street Garden is permeated by
underground streams and was once known as Burnt Mill
Pond. In some areas, the water table is as high as 6
feet below the surface. Adjacent property owners are
concerned that new development could raise the water
table and undermine the foundations of their
buildings. (Recent construction on East 8th Street,
just two blocks away, caused widespread flooding,
cracks, and other structural damage to neighboring
tenements.) Yet the City Council, upon Partnership's
urging, waived the requirement for an Environmental
Impact Study. And Partnership has refused to have its
engineers survey adjacent buildings prior to
construction to ensure their structural stability.
OTHER GARDENS THREATENED: The proposed
destruction of the 10th and 11th Street gardens is
part of a larger effort by the Giuliani
Administration to auction off as many as half of the
over 700 community gardens citywide. On the Lower
East Side, NYC Housing Partnership has been invited
to build on 22 sites, including up to 9 OTHER
GARDENS. Partnership condos are also slated for five,
long-standing gardens in Harlem, in an area
surrounded by abandoned buildings.
THIS IS CULTURAL CLEAR-CUTTING! Community
gardens are expressions of our rich cultural
diversity, drawing thousands of visitors and
tourists, not to mention revenue-generating film
crews. Gardens helped make the East Village the safe,
desirable neighborhood it is today. Yet now that the
real estate market is surging, they are deemed
"expendable." We believe that by
subsidizing"middle income" condos, the City
only fuels the rapid pace of gentrification and
displacement underway on the Lower East Side, while
wiping out the vibrant cultural history which the
gardens have preserved.. Gardens vs. Housing is a
GARDENS + HOUSING = LIVABLE COMMUNITY
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