New rules being drafted by the city may omit some protections and assurances accorded nearly a decade ago to hundreds of community gardens scattered across the five boroughs, according to the New York Times.
The proposed rules, which are being written by the Department of Parks and Recreation and the Department of Housing Preservation and Development, are meant to replace a 2002 agreement between the city and the New York State attorney general’s office that helped end years of court battles and protests involving the future of the gardens.
That agreement, which is set to expire in September, settled a lawsuit in which the attorney general’s office sought to stop the Giuliani administration from selling city-owned gardens to developers.
As a result, the city preserved 198 community gardens in the parks department’s GreenThumb program, increased the protection of 197 other gardens and agreed not to develop 100 gardens maintained by the Department of Education. About 150 gardens were designated for sale and development.
Several drafts of the new rules, which are not yet finalized, describe a process to develop gardens that is similar to the one in the existing agreement. But the drafts and the current agreement also differ significantly. The drafts, so far, do not contain language guaranteeing the continuation of gardens preserved by the existing agreement. And while the existing agreement states that “the city represents that it has no present intention of selling or developing” other gardens, such assurances do not appear in the drafts.
Consequently, some gardeners said, the draft rules would appear to make all gardens equally eligible for development, regardless of their current status.
“This would be a policy change from preservation to the ability to develop,” said Aresh Javadi of the New York City Community Garden Coalition, who said he would ask that the city make all GreenThumb gardens permanent. “We want to work with them to achieve a fruitful agreement that gives parks gardens a safe and protected environment.”