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Green space assured in South Bronx

  • Subject: [cg] Green space assured in South Bronx
  • From: Don Boekelheide <dboekelheide@yahoo.com>
  • Date: Mon, 6 Dec 2004 11:01:09 -0800 (PST)

The Epoch Times, New York/global (English and Chinese
editions)

Green Space Assured in South Bronx

By Benjamin Youngquest
Dec 06, 2004

NEW YORK  Ever since being informed that their
community gardens were slated to be sold by the City
to low-income housing developers, the organizing
members of three South Bronx community garden projects
went to work. They crafted an alternate plan called
the Homes and Gardens Plan that would save their
gardens and allow for the housing to still be built.
This plan, sponsored by South Bronx United Gardeners
(SBUG), made it through the courts last week with some
minor adjustments.

According to Marty Rogers, an organizing member of
SBUG, the plan resulted from months of open meetings,
with representation from the community as well as
builders and developers. The plan puts forth ways to
save all 19 threatened gardens in the South Bronx, he
said. 

Last Wednesday, petitioners from Sunshine Garden,
Latinos Unidos Garden, and Family Group Garden
presented the plan to the Citys legal team. The
hearing was presided over by Supreme Court Justice
Hon. Eileen Branston.

After an hour of negotiations between the two sides
legal teams, held privately in the judges chambers,
they emerged to read the provisional settlement, the
gardens have until Dec. 5 at 6 p.m. to vacate the
presently occupied sites. The three gardens will be
relocated, with the help of the City, to three
alternate sites provided for their use. These new
sites, located not far from the original ones, would
not come under threat of being built upon in the
future.

That is, all except for site 7. There was a loophole
inserted into the settlement by the City that states
that, the city may seek to modify the use of site 7.

The Judge asked for assurances that if this were to
occur the City would endeavor to relocate the gardens
occupying that site. The counsel for the City replied
that they were viewing it as a sort of swap option,
for not developing the Cortland Ave. site that is to
be the home of two of the transplanted gardens.

When the settlement had been fully read into record,
Judge Branston mandated that both sides must work in
complete co-ordination, so that the maximum number
of plants can be saved.

Social worker and garden activist Ben Shepard, 35,
said he hopes that the spirit of the agreement will
stay in place. There is definitely not enough green
space in the South Bronx. He also stated that he was
wary of the apparent loophole to develop site 7 in the
future.

Adam Honigman, avid community gardener and member of
the editorial board of the American Community Garden
Association, said, The city has in its inventory,
literally thousands of empty lots on which these
housing projects could be built. The destruction of 14
year old gardens is the destruction of fourteen years
of neighborhood greening, and is wrong.

PhD student Efrat Eisenberg said, I didnt hear
anything in the settlement about the gardeners being
compensated for their losses (mostly in the form of
donated time) that doesnt seem fair.

The legal team for the City declined commenting on the
case.

Lead counsel for the petitioners commented that the
settlement is, not perfect, but the best hoped for.


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