Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Proposed New Rules Worry Community Garden Advocates

Tremont Community Garden in the Bronx in 2008.
Suzanne DeChillo/The New York TimesTremont Community Garden in the Bronx in 2008. New rules are being written for the city’s community gardens.


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.”

New York Times  City Room - July 6, 2010 - By Colin Moynihan


  1. terrible
    they published the proposed rules which enable development today, really bad news.... where is the leadership of the city council?

  2. Actually, NYRP, ie Bette Midler, did not really help. It is a common misperception. The fact is that there was a widespread massive city-wide civil disobedience campaign against Giuliani’s efforts to selll/auction ALL the garden at the time. The sit ins and demonstrations wiuth hundreds of NYers of every age getting arrested compoelled him to look for a way out. Spitzer was enlisted from advocates in Albany and thanks to Judith Enck at the time, a true public servant when she was at the State level. Trust for Public Land offered to buy outright some 50 or so gardens. They were threatened with sitins in their office if all the gardens on the block at the time were not preserved, hence Rudy’s dear friend Bette Midler entered the picture. These two noe-liberal outfits, raising money off our backs, cut out the legs of the campaign to preserve all gardens and instead we got 100 plus bought as private sites, rather than public space (see NYRP’s Target corporate gentrifying gardens in Harlem for example) and left us with the agreement now to expire with the movement less vigorous and the more gardens campaign not as energetic as it could be.
    Bottom line, legislation is needed, it was such a mainstream concept, even the Municipal Art Society was calling for it back then. Where is everybody? What happened to the people that were empowered to lead the charge?
    -brooklyn gardenero