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Save the Bellevie Hosptial Sobriety Garden!

  • Subject: [cg] Save the Bellevie Hosptial Sobriety Garden!
  • From: Adam36055@aol.com
  • Date: Mon, 12 Jun 2006 22:16:59 EDT

BELLEVUE HOSPITAL SOBRIETY GARDEN
Founded 1989

The garden sits on a small sliver of land carved out on bthe south lawnb
of
Bellevue  Hospital, flanked by the  main hospital building, the FDR on the
east, 26th Street on the south, bthe south  parking lotb on the west.  It
covers  approximately 15,000 square feet.  Part of it is cultivated in
vegetables,
much of it in flowers; its paths  are created from mosaics and stones, heavily
accented with bfound objects;b folk  sculptures and rustic art punctuate
the
space.  It has an entirely home-grown,  unpolished, work-in-progress look to
it, nurtured by scores of the poor and  homeless patients and Bellevue serves.
THE GARDEN IS FACING ITS GREATEST THREAT EVER
CURRENT PROBLEM:
The City of New York is  about to break ground on the East River Science Park
on 29th Street,  causing Bellevue Hospital to lose 250 parking spots for at
least three years.  To help the hospital with their  parking problem during
the
construction period, the Science Park is allocating about $2  million (about
$600,000 per year).  Parking lot contractors proposed  to the hospital to
reorganize the existing parking in bthe south  lot,b installing 4-story
stackable
parking lifts and extending the  parking over the Bellevue Sobriety Garden.
The patients and staff are  shocked and devastated to see their therapeutic
garden facing destruction.  The plans were drawn up in secret and  announced
in
late May to the Substance Abuse Recovery staff, whose members are  under
strict orders to not protest, at penalty of losing their jobs.  Demolition is
slated to take place by  mid-July.  The top administrators of  Bellevue
Hospital
say that there is  no room for discussion.
BACKGROUND TO THE GARDEN
The patients that founded and cultivated the therapeutic garden  since 1989
are members of the Bellevuebs chemical dependency rehabilitation  clinics.
Many are homeless and have  medical and psychiatric conditions that complicate
their efforts to establish a  sound recovery.  They struggle  enormously to
overcome their additions. The garden has been an invaluable  complement to
conventional treatments, which include 12- step programs,  counseling, and
medication, as it provides the only contact with nature and  therapeutic
gardening (with
its endless metaphors of rebirth, hope and  struggle), that most of these
individuals have ever had.
The garden and is financed exclusively through voluntary donations.  The
Auxiliary to Bellevue Hospital is the organization that receives  and monitors
all
of its funds.   Donations by hundreds of individuals of time, hard work,
money and  supplies have created the garden b not just once, but in the
numerous
fresh  starts it has been required to make.
In 1999 Bellevue Hospital attempted to pave over our  paradise to build a
parking lot.  This project was aborted through the  prompt intervention of
CB6,
warning the Hospital it could not redefine the  public land without first
consulting CB6.  (Efforts are currently being made to reach out to CB6, but
the
board says  it no longer falls under bland useb monitoring).
In December 2000, the Therapeutic Garden was hastily moved from its
traditional site in the back of the old psychiatric building, between 29th
and 30th
street, to construct a parking lot (which then  became an extension of the
city morgue folliwng 9/11).  A new site for the Garden was designated  by the
hospital's CEO, Mary Thompson, at the bSouth  Lawn.b on top of the
hospital
diesel tanks, which feed the  emergency electricity generator.
The garden experienced severe turmoil  during 2003-2005, when two-thirds of
its surface was excavated to install new  fiberglass diesel tanks fourteen
feet
under the ground.  At the end of June 2005 volunteers  started to reconstruct
the marble mosaic paths and sitting areas, raised new  planting area walls,
repaired and restored raised vegetable bed walls, shoveled  31 yards of finely
screened topsoil from Long Island into the planting  areas, repaired the
watering system, built pink granite benches, raised a  cement covered Pergola
to
support the wisteria and climbing rose, sculpted two  blue eyed cement lions
to
guard the pergola, and transplanted the  plants which had been rescued during
the  tank escavation.
HOW YOU CAN  HELP
1) Visit the gardenbs website: _http://www.saveourgarden.org/_
(http://www.saveourgarden.org/)  .  Watch for         information on the
petition campaign.
2)   Attend the  community board 6 meeting at NYU Medical  Center (530 First
Avenue,  near 32nd  Street) on Wednesday, June 14, to support the  patients
and volunteers who will lobby for the gardenbs protection.
3)  Webre forming bFriends of the Bellevue  Sobriety Garden,b consisting
of
NYU  professionals working in Bellevue, including doctors and staff, together
with  community gardeners, recovery organizations, and mental health
advocates.  Watch the website for more  information.


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