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Bronx History - Why they want to bulldoze....

  • Subject: [cg] Bronx History - Why they want to bulldoze....
  • From: "Honigman, Adam" <Adam.Honigman@Bowne.com>
  • Date: Tue, 11 Dec 2001 12:20:56 -0500

I'm sharing this reply with the group who may not understand what the Bronx is about. Yes, we have upperclass Riverdale and well kept ethnic enclaves in the Bronx that are doing well. However, the area around the NY Botanical Garden, Bronx Zoo and, of course, Yankee Stadium remain economically depressed.
Rationality has very little to do with the city's desire to bulldoze gardens. 
Some history: If your local public TV station ever shows the "New York" miniseries made by the Burns brothers ( the guys who did the "Civil War" and "Baseball" series) you'll see a section on Robert Moses, a big time advocate for the automobile who destroyed neighborhoods to build expressways.
Both housing and manufacturing fell to his bulldozers. It can be said that the decline of the Bronx as a borough was precipitated by the construction of the Cross Bronx Expressway which tore apart whole viable working class neighborhoods comprised of manufacturing and affordable housing.  Housing stock became abandoned, banks red lined ( disinvested from) whole neighborhoods and after the fires much of the Bronx remains empty, rubble-filled lots. 
The NYC dept of Housing Preservation and Development will move to bulldoze a community garden, even if it is surrounded by empty lots and derelict buildings because it wants to offer a tabula rasa - a clear slate- for any developer who might show interest in the sweet bye and bye. 
With 10,000 empty tax lots in the City of New York, the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development goes to bulldoze community gardens first because they are focii of grass roots neighborhood residents who can stand in the way of a politically or financially expediant back room land use deals. 
Best wishes,
Adam Honigman
-----Original Message-----
From: Jim.Call [mailto:jimcall@casagarden.com]
Sent: Tuesday, December 11, 2001 11:18 AM
To: Honigman, Adam
Subject: RE: [cg] FW: [Fwd: Cabo Rojo Community still stands! Garden very much in Danger! Encampment! post and forward please]

Coming from afar, why is it that the NYC gov't is bulldozing down CG when there are many other vacant lots within these areas?  I'm theorizing that they have a purpose ( to build apartments/condos or whatever) for this destruction.
 -----Original Message-----
From: community_garden-admin@mallorn.com [mailto:community_garden-admin@mallorn.com]On Behalf Of Honigman, Adam
Sent: Tuesday, December 11, 2001 9:47 AM
To: 'community_garden@mallorn.com'
Cc: 'aresh'
Subject: [cg] FW: [Fwd: Cabo Rojo Community still stands! Garden very much in Danger! Encampment! post and forward please]

Here is more Bronx community garden news in a hot off the press ( and un-spellchecked) release from Aresh of Garden Celebrations! and More Gardens!
Best wishes,
Adam Honigman
-----Original Message-----
From: aresh [mailto:aresh@moregardens.org]
Sent: Monday, December 10, 2001 8:33 PM
Subject: [Fwd: Cabo Rojo Community still stands! Garden very much in Danger! Encampment! post and forward please]

Mondays Encampment Keeps Garden Alive!
Bulldozer Alert at Cabo Rojo Garden
Encampment Is Full on! Come Support.

Thanks to all the magial beings who defended the Garden this morning!

To Do:
1 - Come and Stay Over night (very warm Casita) and or be at the garden all this Week, Early Morning 5-6am Bulldozer
2 - Call Nos Que Damos a once people's organization which has a strong ties to the destructve plans + 15 other gardens close by.... 718 585 2323 - All Gardens Stay!
3 -  Call Bloomberg transition team and tell them we need All Community Gardens to be made Permanent + to Create More Gardens!   212 617 2001
 4 - More Gardens! Tuesday meeting 12/11/01 at the Cabo Rojo Garden. Bring food and wood(not painted).

Facts - Melrose Common, a neighborhood in the South Bronx, has 16 Endangered Gardens Amidst Hundreds of Vacant Lands.
Cabo Rojo Garden was transferred to its present site in 1997 after being moved 3 times (see longer story below). . Due to official beaurocratic error it was never written into a  GreenThumb Garden. There are copies of the transfer papers (enclosed) and  GreenThumb  assuming it was a GT garden has been bringing soil, and equipment(enclosed receipt) to the Gardener Luis. HPD employees have threatened Luis with arrest and have said they are sending the bulldozers to destroy the garden on Monday even though they haven't gotten permission (ULURP) on through City Hall to build on it yet. We are also asking Nos Que Damos a local organizers to make all 16 local community Gardens perserved as part of the plan. South Bronx has the highest Asthma rate in the country (x14 national average). . We are also asking tMayor to be Bloomberg to once and for all make all Gardens Permanent for the benefit of all New Yorkers.
There is an absolute need of permanent low income housing (non in the last five years) with open green community spaces.

Where: 159th St. and Courtlandt Ave., Bronx
Directions: Take the 2 or the 5 to 149 and 3rd Ave. Take Melrose Ave. north to 159th St. Take a left one block to Courtlandt St. to the garden.

Contact person: Aresh and Luis: (917) 518-9987  (212 533 8019 or JK Monday-212 633 2323)
More Gardens! 212-533 8019

The Long Story
Luis, a gardener and very gentle guy in the Bronx, has had a garden named  Cabo Rojo since 1986.  But Cabo Rojo has had to move 4 times, and on Monday  the bulldozers were due to arrive once again.  Luis is willing to make a  stand, and allow us folks to defend his garden.  It will be a chance to get  gardens back into the consciousness of the city and let the new mayor know  how much the people want and need them.

The history of Cabo Rojo (named after his home town in P.R.) is incredible.
Luis started the first garden in 1986 on 152nd between Melrose and Collin  Aves.  It was a  GreenThumb garden, and Luis was told to leave in 1989.  Then  the land stood empty for 11 years!  (They finally built on it last year.)

Next, he moved Cabo Rojo to 153rd between Melrose and Elton Aves, in 1989,  and again had a  GreenThumb lease and classification.  In 1992, he was told to  leave again.  And that land was allowed to rot away for 2 more years, till  1994 when they built something there.

In 1992, he put Cabo Rojo on 158th and Elton.  5 years later HPD came and bulldozed the garden.  No request to leave this time, they just came and did their dirty work.  At this point, Community Board 1 gave him transfer papers to move  his garden to 159th and Courtlandt.  Even HPD, at that time, gave him to understand that he would be okay there.  They said, "Just keep the place  clean."

That's the site where Cabo Rojo is now. He also was given plants and soil by  GreenThumb, and had  every reason to assume that the garden was properly designated as a   GreenThumb garden, protected by the T.R.O. that Attorney General Spitzer  obtained for all the  GreenThumb gardens after the loss of Esperanza in  February of 2000.  A few months ago, HPD showed up in Cabo Rojo and told Luis  to get ready to move out.  They were threatening arrests.  After doing some  investigation, he learned that there was a beaurocratic error and that his  garden was not covered as a  GreenThumb garden after all.  So he had no way to  protect it. It is important to realize that this garden has not gone through the City administration's ULURP process which looks at the merits of the land before it is built on. Thus the garden will be destroyed and empty for at least 6 months in a worst case scenario, like the other gardens he was at without a legal plan for its development.

Luis was ready to let it all go this time.  He was talking about moving back  to Puerto Rico.  Today he told Aresh about what the garden was like in the  summertime.  It's near a school, P.S. 29, and the third-graders had  plant-boxes in which they put carrots, beans and corn.  There's also a daycare  center nearby and the little ones, 4 and 5 years old, planted as well.  There  were barbecues for all the neighbors.  Lots of trees, a large and beautiful  place.  Celebrations and friendliness.

Well, now Luis is ready to take a stand for his garden and the other gardens in the city.  We drummed blessed and thanked the garden, Almost all major TV stations covered the gathering of people and their rights to tend the earth. A thorough legislative act is needs to make all Community Gardens Permanent and create More of them in a city last in Open Green Spaces and highest health (asthma) hazard in our children.

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