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Children’s Magical Garden Activists Weigh Strategy

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Friday morning, Children's Magical Garden.
Friday morning, Children’s Magical Garden.

Here’s an update on what’s happening at the Children’s Magical Garden.  Last week, members of the garden went on “24 hour watch” after they begun to suspect that a developer intended to move ahead with a six story residential building on a disputed parcel at 157 Norfolk St.  Today, the situation doesn’t seem quite so urgent, but community activists are still trying to sort out what’s going on at the Department of Buildings (DOB) and in the court system.

In March, the Children’s Magical Garden filed a lawsuit against the owner, the Horizon Group, claiming that the privately owned lot is actually rightfully part of the garden. Two other city-owned parcels had previously been protected as a permanent community garden. The city had placed a 45-day hold on the property, but recently lifted it. Friday morning garden activists held an early morning press conference (colorful hats included), urging the city to hold off until the court case runs its course. They also called on City Council member Margaret Chin to help make the case with city officials.

This morning DOB Press Secretary Kelly Magee told us, “a temporary hold was in effect to allow the Department time to conduct a detailed review of the site plans and ownership records for the property.” The plans were approved April 7, and the “hold” was lifted. But construction is not cleared to begin just yet because permits have not been issued for the site.

Typically, the Buildings Department does not place a hold on any project in which a lawsuit has been filed unless there’s a court order.  In this case, the judge has not issued a temporary restraining order. This afternoon, Kate Templeton West, garden president, said the group is in the midst of weighing its options “and deciding “next best steps.” She added, “what we do know is that we have to be watchful at the garden right now because based on experience, we’re in a better-safe-than-sorry place with developers.”

Over the weekend, staff members of Council member Chin told us they are unable to become actively involved since the matter is in litigation. They did, however, make sure their contacts at the Buildings Department were aware of the situation.

Meanwhile, the Children’s Magical Garden has big plans for the summer. They’ve launched an online fundraising campaign in support “a new expanded youth mentoring program and summer garden camp.”  Here’s the link of your interested in helping out.

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