Garden Preservation Update!

It is a fact that many of the gardens in New York City are currently threatened by development plans. Almost all 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 are slated to be bulldozed. Many of the 750 community gardens in New York City are now under threat of destruction as the City sells off 11,000 lots. These gardens are now threatened by city auctions and the HPD (cross-subsidy) plan for market- rate (luxury) development, that will destroy the gardens, as well as displace the low-income population of these neighborhoods.


La Plaza Cultural Garden with park and spectacular amphitheater (sw corner of 9th Street & Ave. C), Lower East Side, NYC is being threatened with destruction by proposed plans for a 12 million dollar building. On Tuesday February 25th the community board 3 voted to release La Plaza Cultural Garden that has provided a park, garden, and vital outdoor cultural center and performance space for the community, schools and the neighborhood residents for the past 20 years. The Developer AF&F has proposed to build a building with 60 market rate luxury apartments and 16 affordable apartments. The building will also include10 percent commercial space and 10 percent of space for the Lower East Side Girls Club. It is clear that the developer has given the Girls Club a great deal and used them to provide a guise for the market rate development project that will lead to further displacement of the low-income population, not provide adequate housing for those in need living in the neighborhood, and destroy one of the ecological and cultural landmarks of the Lower East Side. The gardeners, community residents, and local organizations believe that it is unethical for the developer to use the Girls Club, not only as a guise for his market rate development plans, but also to pit one disenfranchised neighborhood group against another. When a vital girls club that is 10% of a building project paves the way for the destruction of a 20 year old garden, cultural and community center this is tragic loss to the spirit of unity and peace in the community. La Plaza Cultural park is one of the city's ecological treasures and part of the Lower East Side Garden network that is recognized around the world as an exemplary model of ecological balance in the city. This magnificent park was built without public funding by the dedication, creativity and sweat of local residents, gardeners, and artists over the past 20 years. The local residents of the surrounding neighborhood and community-based organizations while believing the girls club is a positive asset to the neighborhood, believe it would better help the neighborhood to move to another location and not destroy what has already been a living cultural and community center, and garden for the past 20 years. To help this garden and get detailed information call: Carolyn Ratcliffe 674-4057

The City Planning Commission on Wednesday, February 19th voted 10 to approve the auction of 9 Lower East Side lots, including 3 gardens, despite Community Board 3's and the Manhattan Borough President Ruth Messinger's recommendation to preserve these gardens and recommend them for a greenthumb lease, and despite the fact that these lots are too small for any building development, and could only be sold for use as a vacant lot or parking lot. The Gardeners and members, supporters, and endorsers of the New York City Coalition for The Preservation of Gardens are outraged by this decision to release these gardens, including Amigos Garden on 3rd Street (between Aves B & C) that has been providing a haven for children to play and connect with nature for the past 20 years. These gardens were instrumental in the reduction of crime and drug trafficking on the block and improving the quality of life of the neighborhood. The blatant disregard of community support to preserve these gardens, including thousands of support letters, organizations endorsements, petitions, testimony by gardeners at City hall, community board and Borough President recommendations, and the recent Save Our Gardens Day Parade & Rally at City Hall on Thursday, February 13th, with 500 gardeners and supporters from Harlem, the Upper West Side, and the Lower East Side in Manhattan, as well as Brooklyn and the Bronx, is unjust. The City Planning Commission decision is a complete disregard for the community and its dedicated residents that have turned City neglect over the past quarter of a century into a thriving oasis providing needed open space, and millions of dollars worth of educational, cultural, environmental, and social services to the community free of cost to the city. These gardens are an exemplary model of urban improvisation that should be recognized as a model urban plan for the 21st century.


500 gardeners and supporters from Harlem, the Upper West Side and the Lower East Side in Manhattan, as well as Boerum Hill, Park Slope, and Coney Island, in Brooklyn, and the Bronx, attended the Save Our Gardens Day Rally at City Hall on Thursday February 13th. On this magnificent sunny day, the gardeners young and old marched in procession accompanied by 15-foot wildflower puppets and sparkling garden signs, with flowers, petitions, and letters in support of the gardens to elected and city officials offices. The first stop was 100 Gold Street (HPD) Housing Preservation and Development where security and representatives accepted the flowers and letters. The 2nd stop was the Municipal building where the children gardeners and their parents attempted to deliver the package to Deputy Mayor, Fran Reiters Office. Here a security official refused to accept the flowers and the children began to cry. They then delivered a package the Borough President Ruth Messinger's Office. Joan Tally accepted the gift and attempted to call Ruth Messinger in a meeting to come a greet the group. Another package was delivered to the secretary for Commissioner William Diamond, of Citywide Administrative Services. At the next stop the delivery group was able to personally deliver the flowers and letters to Joseph Rose of the City Planning Commission at 22 Reade Street. The groups then delivered a package to the City Council at 250 Broadway, which was cordially accepted for Peter Vallone. Finally after a 30 minute wait we were able to deliver a package to a representative at City Hall for Mayor Giuliani, who came out to greet the delivery group, as we were prevented from entering City Hall. The rally followed with speakers including garden representatives from the various neighborhoods, and supporters such as Naoimi Zurcher of New York ReLeaf Region 2 Planning Committee (NY state urban forestry group), as well as elected officials, Adam Clayton Powell Jr. IV (council member from Harlem and Upper West Side), and David Wang from Borough President of Manhattan Ruth Messinger's office who issued a formal address to the rally and the issue in support of preserving some of the gardens and more thoughtful planning involving community input. We stayed until the sun set in the cold winter night.

The following gardens were voted to be put up for sale and auction including:

Holy Mary of Mother Garden (block 378 lot 49) 9th Street between Aves C & D was voted to be released for the HPD plan for luxury development.

Urban Botanical Society on 7th St. between Aves B & C (block 377- lot 71)

Sculpture Garden on 6th Street between Avenues B & C (block 389-lots 58-59),

6th/7th Street Garden on 6th St. bet. Aves. B & C on northside (Block 389-lot 55)

6 gardens in Harlem and 9 in Coney Island by January 1997.

27, 53, 108, 129 West 128th Street and 213, 233, 263 West 121st Street are the 6 Harlem gardens slated for destruction. (another 4 gardens are on the HPD list)

Mermaid and Surf Avenue Gardens among 9 gardens in Coney Island.

HPD plan for luxury development of the lower east side is targeted to destroy 16 gardens.

September 1995 gardens CB3 recommended 6 lower east side gardens for HPD luxury development plan
The sites listed include:

Green Oasis & Gilberts Sculpture Garden (8th Street between Avenues C & D) (block: 377 lots: 18, 20, 22, 24,25)

9th Street & Avenue C Garden (Block: 379 lots: 53-56)

10th Street Garden between Avenues B & C (block: 393 lots: 28-32, 41-44)

9th Between Avenues C & D Garden (block: 379 lots: 53-56)

Suffolk Street Garden (block: 349 lots: 1-08, 12, 13) .

The HPD luxury development plan is also targeting these 10 lower east side gardens:

6BC Botanical Garden on 6th Street between Avenues B & C (block 387, lots 121-122)

Community Residents Assoc. Garden on 3rd St. between Aves C & D (block 373, lot 56)

Casita Garden on 9th St. Between Aves C & D (block 379, lot 53)

Earth People Garden on 8th St. between Aves B & C (block 391, lots 42-43)

La Plaza Cultural Garden on 9th Street between Avenues C & B (block 391, lots 23 -24)

Orchard Alley Garden on 4th Street between Avenues C & D (block 373, lot 27)

Rodriguez Community Garden on Suffolk St. bet. Rivington & Stanton (block 349, lots 1-8)

The Garden Group on 6th Street between Avenues C & D (block 376, lot 55)

Mendez Mural Garden on 11th Street between Avenues B & C

6th & B Garden (block 4011, lots 31, 33, 35, 37-39) was on this list, but in May 1996 received Permanent Site Status under the Parks Department.

September 1996 4 gardens threatened with sale & HPD luxury development plans:

This fall, on Tuesday, September 1996, another 4 gardens were released for development by the local Community Board despite hundreds of gardeners and community residents speaking on behalf on preserving the gardens. The vote includes:

De Colores Garden put on auction list, but CB3 recommended garden for Greenthumb lease.

(This group is currently pending with the City Planning Commission )

November 1996 Community Board meeting voted to release other gardens for development and sale:

Umbrella Garden on Aves. C bet. 2nd & 3rd Sts. was on list for sale, but CB3 recommended garden for a Greenthumb lease.

Jardin los Amigos on 3rd Street between Avenues B&C (Housing Committee reccomended for private sale. Due to our organizing CB3 voted to reccomend for a Greenthumb lease.

December 1996 gardens up for sale & development

Magical Childrens Garden on Norfolk and Stanton Streets (block 354, lot 18) (pending w/ CB3)

SOME ACCOMPLISHMENTS (on the Lower East Side):

Saved Alerts Garden (2nd St. bet. Bowery & 2nd Ave.) and Winners Circle Garden (4th St. bet. Aves. B & C) from slated auction on October 19, 1995.

Saved ABC Garden from destruction: (8th St. bet. Aves B & C) April 1995. Organized emergency support and demonstration to stop the destruction by the Roachco Film Co.

CB3 recommended De Colores Garden on 8th Street (bet. Aves B & C) and Amigos Garden on 3rd St. and Umbrella Garden on Avenue C for Greenthumb leases.