Lower East Side garden activists are celebrating a victory today. At last night’s meeting of Community Board 3, they won overwhelming support for a proposal to create a community gardens district. They’ll now take the idea to the City Council.
Earlier this month, we told you about an online petition that had been started to bolster their efforts. About 760 people have signed so far. Community Board 3 member Ayo Harrington, who initiated the proposal, sent out a press release after last night’s 28-1 vote that explains the rationale for the new district. Here’s an excerpt:
Once there were over 60 community gardens in Community Board 3 but only 46 remain. Of those owned by the City, the Coalition says none are permanent or receive dedicated budgets to address infrastructure needs. Gardeners and their growing list of supporters, want CB3’s community gardens mapped and designated as park land – which would then take an act of the state legislature to be used for any other purpose; designated as a special district to acknowledge their unique and well-earned place in the City’s history; and management left in the hands of community based volunteers which has proven to be a successful model of operation for over forty years… The Coalition has built enormous support… (collecting) over 60 letters from diverse sources that include Councilmember Mendez, Assemblymember Glick, Senator Brad Hoylman, Community Access, Fourth Arts Block, Rod Rodgers Duo Multicultural Center, Don Juan’s Barbershop, La Mama, Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, Lower East Side Ecology Center, Fine Fare Supermarket, Tompkins Square Parents Association, Cooper Square Committee, Sixth Street Community Center, East Village Community Coalition, Citizen’s Committee for NYC, and block and tenant associations to name a few.
Just in the past couple of years, two neighborhood gardens – Siempre Verde Community Garden and Children’s Magical Garden – have been threatened by development proposals. The de Blasio administration has a plan to build affordable housing on at least 15 parcels currently used for community gardens, although none of those is on the LES.