Earlier this month, Community Board 3’s parks committee endorsed an effort to make the Children’s Magical Garden on Norfolk Street permanent. Last night, the full board chimed in, strengthening a resolution that now goes to city agencies.
The garden consists of three lots – two controlled by the Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) and one owned by developer Serge Hoyda. Last month, Hoyda put up a fence separating his property from the rest of the garden, reigniting a long-simmering dispute. HPD has signaled it would be willing to transfer the lots it owns to the GreenThumb Program, foregoing the opportunity to build housing on the site. But the agency has balked at a proposal for a land swap, in which Hoyda would be offered a building site somewhere else in exchange for relinquishing the Norfolk Street parcel.
The initial resolution before the board last night offered support for making the garden permanent but did not advocate a land swap. But after several CB3 members argued in favor of a stronger statement, a resolution was approved calling on the city to “spearhead negotiations” to “acquire the privately owned property” and to make the garden whole.
The focus for the community group now shifts to City Council member Margaret Chin – and Speaker Christine Quinn – who have expressed support for the Children’s Magical Garden. Given the agency’s reluctance, their advocacy will be required if a land swap is to occur.