They’re eager to avoid the pain of uprooting suffered by gardeners like Tom Goodridge, who helped to create a garden at P.S. 76 in Harlem in the early 90s. Dubbed the Garden of Love, it replaced a trash-strewn vacant lot in the kind of transformation being repeated in hundreds of other spaces across the city. But on Nov. 2, 1998, bulldozers plowed without warning through the garden’s fence, flowers and grove of mulberry trees. Along with 40 other newly flattened gardens, it was slated by the city for development into affordable housing.
Goodridge and his school community mourned their magical refuge. “I think it’s wrong to raise children without trees to climb and mudpies to make,” he said. Especially when two years after it was razed, all that the city had erected in its place was a sign announcing that affordable housing would be built.
Now, a vocal cohort of community gardeners across New York City worries that a similar fate could befall their own sanctuaries. A legal settlement that protects some of the city’s green spaces is set to expire in Sept. 2010, with no new safeguards to take its place.