The Parks Department removed a section of snow fence protecting Nick's Garden in McCarren Park last week, but gardener Walid Mokh put it back up. The Parks Department is claiming it did it to reclaim the land (with its fence restore, below) for the general public. Photo by Bess Adler
A Parks Department official revealed this week that the agency’s removal of a fence around a privately cultivated garden inside McCarren Park last week was the latest salvo in a war to reclaim the land for the public, according to the Brooklyn Paper.
One day after parks workers uprooted a gate surrounding Nick’s Garden, a small garden near Lorimer and Bayard streets, North Brooklyn Parks administrator Stephanie Thayer accused gardeners Walid Mokh and Gina Risica of fencing off an area that is public space and promised additional changes.
“Working in parks, I am well aware of the challenges in caretaking within public space, but privatizing public space is not the answer to the challenge,” Thayer wrote in an e-mail to the pair. “The garden area should be accessible for all park goers to see the beauty that’s been created, and for all to enjoy.”
On April 24, the fence was breached to allow a Boy Scout troop to plant several flowering trees in honor of its centennial. After the gardeners protested, the Scouts retreated, and Mokh hastily restored the garden’s fence.
Mokh and Risica argue that the fence was torn down, not opened for more access, and that the Parks Department’s disruptions could harm flowers in the garden. Both gardeners assert that they are constantly present in the garden and available to any community member who wants to learn more about horticulture.
“We’ve had a really good relationship with the Parks Department,” said Risica. “We’re in the park, we’ve been there forever, and it’s never been put to question that it shouldn’t be a community garden.”
Community Newspaper Group / Aaron Short