Re: Development on Community Garden Land in NYC
- Subject: Re: [cg] Development on Community Garden Land in NYC
- From: Adam36055@aol.com
- Date: Mon, 4 Aug 2003 16:54:58 EDT
What an afternoon of turgid reading you have had! Sorry, buddy, but it's
only the tip of the iceberg as far as understanding how the agreement made
between NY State Attorney General and the City of New York works.
One of the great things about being an American Community Gardening
Association member, is that you get the annual Greening Review and almost monthly
issues of our newsletter, "The Community Gardener". Here is information on how
you, or your organization can join: <A
HREF="http://www.communitygarden.org/about/membership.html">ACGA Membership</A> The attached article is from the Fall
2002, Volume 1, Issue 3 of that newsletter:
The NYC Garden Sttelment - A Digest of Press Releases and Commentary
By Adam Honigman, volunteer, <A
HREF="http://www.clintoncommunitygarden.org/">Clinton Community Garden</A>
From the Attorney General's September 18, 2002 press release. " Mayor Michael
R. Bloomberg and Attorney General Eliot Spitzer announced an agreement that
will enable the City to proceed with plans for the construction of affordable
housing while preserving almost 200 Green Thumb gardens and increasing the
protectoin of almost 200 gardens, thus raising the number of protected gardens in
the City to 500. This agreement allows for the construction of critical
affordable housing and other community facilities on City property... The
agreement resolves a three-year-old lawsuit over the development of City-owned
property containing community gardens."
Adapted with thanks from the Gotham Gazette CG web page: <A
There are 838 community gardens in NYC (more or less) This is the box score:
Under the agreement:
391 will be "preserved." If Parks takes them, they're safest. If they're
offered to a land trust, there's still a chance local review can nix the land
114 are subject to future sale of development. Before a garden can be sold,
it must go through a review process that requires the city to offer
alternative land for neighborhood gardeners. However, there's even less of a chance
that the garden will be preserved.
38 gardens are slated for immediate development. Over 2,000
apartment/multiple dwelling units are planned for these lots. As expected, the bulk of these
are predominantly in communities of color whose elected officials support
other uses for the land - including rental units that run for $2,000 a month.
295 gardens are not covered under the agreement. Gardens registered after
1999 on private property, or those that have been purchased by The Trust for
Public Land or the New York Restoration Project are not part of the agreement.
Flies in the ointment: NYC's Green Thumb Program (directed by former ACGA
board member, Edie Stone), which provides technical support for many gardens
will remain in existence only as long as it maintains its own funding stream.
"This settlement demonstrates that the city officials recognize the
importance of open space by preserving hundreds of gardens," siad Christian DiPalermo
of New Yorkers for Parks. "However, it fails to permantly protect these sites
and does not set up meaningful process for creating new gardens. "
Zach, As you're a relative newbie to this, and that summer reading seems to
be the order for the day, I would suggest that you read:
1) "The Struggle for Eden" by Malve von Hassell - Greenwood Press
(www.greenwood.com) New York: 2002. An excellent history of the history to legitimize
community gardens as a land use in the Lower East Side of Manhattan & New York.
The hardcover book runs about $65 ( a stupid marketing decision by Greenwood,
because they would have sold tons of them, paperbound for $20.)
2) To understand the pre-existing NY State Dept of Environmental
Conservation's ("NYSDEC") State Evironmental Quality Review Act ("SEQRA") - with the
exception of the case law that you, or somebody with access to Lexis would have
to get you up to speed on, here is the NYSDEC website which has links to all
relevant legislation in PDF format. <A
HREF="http://www.dec.state.ny.us/website/dcs/seqr/">NYSDEC Enivironmental Impact Study Guidelines</A>
3) That thing that sounds like a frog croak, ULURP, is the NYC Uniform Land
Use Review Process, which is the process by which the City of New York sells
it's land. Starting at the Community Board level, the ULURP where the first
public hearings take place in the process, first at the Land Use Committeeand
then Full Board levels, the process then gets reviewed by planners, legislators
and then is finally reviewed by the NY City Council's Land Use which makes
recommendations for the full Council Vote - yea or nay.
The devil is in the details, so I'm starting you off at my community board's
website which explains what a NYC community board does, its make up, and how
it does its work.
4) <A HREF="http://manhattancb4.org/">CB4</A>
Then I am directing you to the CB4 Planning page, which you really should
take the time to open up and read, the information on "Public Review Items" and
"About Community Boards"
Please, DO NOT cut to the chase, and go directly to ULURP, because without
that background, the ULURP process will seem entirely unintelligible. The NYC
Uniform Land Use Review Process, while technical sounding is highly politicized
- saving gardens though it requires political gamesmanship and horsetrading
of a pretty high order... your political ducks in order.
<A HREF="http://manhattancb4.org/Planning.htm">CB4 Planning</A>
5) This page of ACGA studies is essential for you to read and understand how
gardens and the land use process, both in NYC and elsewhere have interacted
over the last 30 years. <A
"Community Development Through Gardening: State and Local Policies
Transforming Urban Open Space" by Prof. Jane E. Schukoske, is a "must read." <A
In answer to your question:
Gardeners and the community members and elected officials that they have
managed to marshall behing their garden(s) can win against developers, but always
remember that land use in NYC is a blood sport. It requires a thorough
understanding of process as well as passion and service to community for the garden
Key to the survival of a community gardening survival in NYC is this
"Community gardening is not an entitlement program, it is an opportunity to
serve your community. Community gardening is the creation by some members of
the community of a public garden for the whole community. It may be primarily
to raise food for low income residents, a decorative public botanic garden or
both, but a
community garden can't just be a green space, it needs to serve its
Having this as a central value and having this be the perception of what the
garden is by the surrounding community and elected officials is vital to
community garden viability in NYC and elsewhere.
Best wishes, and sorry for the reading assignment,
<A HREF="http://www.clintoncommunitygarden.org/">Clinton Community Garden</A>
<< Subj: [cg] Development on Community Garden Land in NYC
Date: 8/4/03 3:07:25 PM Eastern Daylight Time
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Zach Youngerman)
I've been going over the Sept 17, 2002 Memorandum of Agreement between
Attorney General Spitzer and the City of New York and I'm trying to understand the
Garden Review Process that is established for development of a community
garden. The process seems to be mostly a list of criteria for determining the
value of the community garden. After this has been done, the plan must go through
the New York State Environmental Quality Review Act "SEQRA" and "ULURP" and
any other appproriate statutory procedures. I know nothing about these
subsequent land use processes so I don't know what provisions they have. Meanwhile the
Garden Review Process has nothing that seems to say if such and such happens,
the community garden will persist and the development will be aborted. My
question is, does the Garden Review Process ensure that a healthy community garden
will be preserved, say because it provides information needed in "SEQRA" to
block development, OR is it basically a "shame on you" t!
o the developper, showing how beautiful the land is s/he's destroying, but
in essence putting no regulating mechanism on the development.? Basically,
does it have any teeth to stop development, or is it just a formalizing of the
process by which a developer kicks out gardeners?
Thank you all, and East Coast Gardeners enjoy this week of 1 part sun: 1
Intern | Green Roofs Initiative
Earth Pledge Foundation
122 E. 38th St.
(212) 725-6611 x 236
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