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:
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
Additional letters in support of the NYC community gardens should be sent to:
Mayor Rudolph Giuliani
Fernando Ferrer, Bronx Borough President
Howard Golden, Brooklyn Borough President
Ruth Messinger, Manhattan Borough President
Claire Shulman, Queens Borough President
Mr. William J. Diamond, Commissioner
Hon Richard T. Roberts, Commissioner
Commissioner Joseph Rose
Mr. Peter Vallone
PLEASE SEND/FAX COPIES OF LETTERS TO:
NYC Coalition for the Preservation of the Gardens
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?
PREVIOUS NEWS LETTERS
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