To protect the city’s sparse greenery over the years, New Yorkers have climbed trees, wagged freshly picked beets and carrots in the faces of politicians and barricaded themselves inside gardens.
Hoping to avoid another such battle, the Bloomberg administration on Monday released new rules that it framed as a means of preserving the city’s 282 community gardens, according to the New York Times.
But the response from garden advocates was mixed, and some said they wanted clearer guarantees that the garden lots would not be turned over to developers.
The rules, which go into effect next month, will replace a 2002 agreement with the state attorney general’s office that offered firm pledges of protection to 198 gardens. That agreement expires on Friday.
The new guidelines include a more explicit pledge that gardens would be preserved if the groups running them were in good standing. To qualify, organizers must keep the gardens well maintained, operate for 20 hours each week and open their gardens to the public.
They also require the city to attempt to help find a new group of gardeners if lots are neglected.
Gardeners had urged the Parks and Recreation Department, which has oversight of community gardens, to follow the spirit of the 2002 agreement and grant permanent protection to the lots. But the department said its powers were limited, and it argued that it was necessary to have some leverage in case a garden was not properly maintained.
Several advocates for community gardens, however, said the rules were too vague and left open the possibility that lots could be overtaken.
Bill Di Paola, executive director of Time’s Up!, an environmental organization, said the rules did not reflect the views of gardeners. “The city needs to recognize that the parks and gardens belong to the people,” Mr. Di Paola said.
Benjamin Shepard, a social worker who has volunteered with Time’s Up!, said he was disappointed that the city devoted so much space in the regulations to detailing the process for relocating gardens.
“I’m not seeing preservation here; I’m not seeing permanence here,” Mr. Shepard said. “We need a full commitment from the city to protect these spaces.”
New York Times - September 13, 2010 - By Javier C. Hernandez
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