CONTACT: Lesley Heathcote
LOCATION: 509-15 East 11th Street
December 31, 1997
We're sad to report that the Mendez Mural Garden
was bulldozed today.
October 1, 1997
EMERGENCY BULLETIN Police
surrounded 10BC Garden on the Lower East Side TODAY
Wednesday, October 1st, claiming an order to vacate
community garden had been issued.
Police subsequently backed off after garden
supporters mobilized to defend garden early this
morning, saying they did not have a copy of vacate
order in hand.
Gardeners are holding emergency round the clock 24
hour vigil to defend gardens at the 10th BC Garden
(10th St. Bet. Aves B & C) and at The Mendez
Mural Garden, (also imminently threatened), (on 11th
St. bet. Aves. A & B) !
Gardeners filed law suit on September 15th against
the City, which is now pending with Supreme Court
Justice Jeffrey Atlas. Judge Atlas has requested that
no action be taken on the gardens until Monday,
October 5th, when he will decide whether or not to
issue a stay of demolition.
The New York City Coalition For The Preservation
of Gardens representing hundreds of community gardens
throughout the City, has filed suit against the City,
the New York Housing Partnership, and developers in
State Supreme Court in Manhattan to prevent the
October 1st demolition of 4 community gardens on the
Lower East Side. Gardens in Harlem also are
threatened possibly as early as today October 1st.
Some of the gardens have been operating for more then
a decade, but their licenses have been revoked by the
City in anticipation of housing construction on the
In the case, New York City Coalition V. Guiliani,
the Coalition of garden groups contends that their
members have spent years converting rubble-strewn,
rat infested lots in their neighborhoods, that were
the sites of drug traffic, into beautiful green space
-- centers of community activity, play areas, hosts
for educational programs, and recreational space --
in neighborhoods that suffer from an extreme shortage
of such amenities. The gardens have been a focal
point for community residents of many cultures and
walks of life, to rebuild their neighborhoods.
Demolition of these gardens now would destroy both
the gardens and these community-building efforts.
They believe that with careful urban planning the
city can easily have both community gardens and new
housing, given the huge amount of vacant lots in the
City's inventory. This is not an issue of gardens
versus housing, this is an issue of poor planning.
New York City Coalition For The Preservation of
(Felicia Young, tel. no. (212) 777-7969; (Haja
Worley, Tel. no. (212) 662-2878). Councel is The
Legal Aid Society, Community Law Offices, David
Weschler, Tel. no. (212) 426-3000; and Leslie Lowe,
Esq., Tel. no. (212) 866-4120.
Mendez Mural Garden is slated to be bulldozed for
51 units of housing to be build by New York City
partnership. This garden was targeted under the HPD
cross-subsidy plan. Now the gardeners have received a
notice from the developer that "they are sorry
for the inconvenience this may cause the group"
In 1991, neighborhood artists Chico and Ken
Hiratsuka began reclaiming the lot located on East
11th Street. In addition to the vegetables, flowers,
herbs, shrubs and trees that are planted in the
garden, there are murals painted on the sides of
buildi ngs bordering the garden, one painted by Chico
Hiratsuka himself. Between 1991 and 1996 the interest
in the garden skyrocketed from these two artists to
over forty gardeners.
The garden has been transformed into a vital and
central part of the neighborhood. Flowers and
vegetables flourish, people have barbecues and
picnics, neighborhood children play there on a
regular basis and murals cover the walls surrounding
the garden. The garden is used by a wide variety of
people of different ages and backgrounds. Often
parents and grandparents bring their children into
the garden and work together on their garden plot.
The interests of people using this garden range from
flower s and plants to art to recreation.
Approximately 3,000 people visit the garden which
was created out of a vacant lot each year. The garden
has served to bring many diverse people together to
work toward a common goal. It provides a place for
neighborhood socializing, beautifies the com munity,
in addition to aiding in the decrease of drug
activity in the neighborhood since the lot was
formerly a spot for selling and use of drugs.
The Mendez Mural Garden has served as a place that
is green where people can be in contact with nature,
smell the flowers and see the sky. Many people who
would normally have little contact with each other
have formed meaningful friendships through t his
garden. In addition, the garden has provided the
neighborhood with a sense of hope that a place of
beauty could be created and maintained in a spot
which was plagued by many problems including drugs,
rats and garbage. Unfortunately, the lot on which the
garden is located has recently been slated for a
condominium development. The members of the
neighborhood, however, are working to provide more
services that will benefit the community in order to
gain support for the garden. The gardeners need
people to write letters in support of saving their
garden. (see letter writing campaign)