CB3 Fully Backs the Establishment of a Community Gardens District on the Lower East Side

Posted on: January 30th, 2015 at 9:17 am by

This image has been archived or removed.

Siempre Verde Garden on Stanton St.

In a huge boon to the area’s history of guerrilla gardening, Community Board 3 last night voted to support the creation of a Community Gardens District in the East Village/Lower East Side. That includes the remaining 46 gardens still located within its confines. The full board ratified the advisory resolution recommended by the Parks subcommittee earlier this month.

This verdict is no doubt a success for the nascent grassroots Coalition to Establish a Community Gardens District, which seeks recognition for the decades of cleanup and beautification (e.g. raking needles and bricks).

By instituting the designation, organizers are pushing the city to (1) acknowledge the historical importance of the neighborhood as the birthplace of this world-renowned movement and (2) map the gardens as Park land to award protection from developer poaching under state law.

CB3 member (and local gardener) Ayo Harrington sent a press release, an excerpt of which is published below:

Once there were over 60 community gardeners in Community Board 3 but only 46 remain. Of those owned by the City, the Coalition says none are permanent or receive dedicated budgets to address infrastructure needs. Gardeners and their growing list of supporters, want CB3’s community gardens mapped and designated as park land – which would then take an act of the state legislature to be used for any other purpose; designated as a special district to acknowledge their unique and well-earned place in the City’s history; and management left in the hands of community based volunteers which has proven to be a successful model of operation for over forty years.

Longtime resident and member, Ayo Harrington, who initiated the proposal and coordinates the Coalition, said, “In the 80s I spent years devoting every spare moment gutting and renovating a building in order to secure affordable housing for my family. Winters and rats were horrible. No sooner than settling in, though, I was compelled to turn my attention to the garbage strewn, vacant lots surrounding my home and, with neighbors, spent every spare moment over the next decade removing the most vile garbage ever and turning them into green pockets of beauty. People just may not know how much work and sacrifice gardeners had to make in order to create our community gardens.”

The Coalition has built enormous support. Through tremendous outreach, they’ve collected over 60 letters from diverse sources that include Councilmember Mendez, Assemblymember Glick, Senator Brad Hoylman, Community Access, Fourth Arts Block, Rod Rodgers Duo Multicultural Center, Don Juan’s Barbershop, La Mama, Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, Lower East Side Ecology Center, Fine Fare Supermarket, Tompkins Square Parents Association, Cooper Square Committee, Sixth Street Community Center, East Village Community Coalition, Citizen’s Committee for NYC, and block and tenant associations to name a few. Their recently started online petition needs just two hundred and sixty signatures to reach one thousand.

“The City needs to recognize the value and vision of its citizens. Since 1973, the people of New York have come together and volunteered their time and hard work to create community gardens for their children and their children’s children. If you want to find the soul of this City come and dig in a community garden.” said Charles Krezell. Krezell heads Loisaida United Neighborhood Gardens (LUNGS), a three year old organization that has brought to CB3 gardens over 150 artists for a two day, annual arts festival; an affordable, weekly food share of fruits and vegetables and over a dozen local high school and college students to work in upwards to twenty gardens through the City’s Summer Youth Employment Program.

Recent Stories

‘Caribea’ Grill Readies Space Left Vacant by Domino’s on Allen Street

Ever since Domino’s ditched its decades-old Allen Street location three years ago, the commercial space has been a vacancy consistently peddled on the market. Now, a new concept is a-knockin. Caribea is as it sounds – a fast casual pan-Caribbean grill. The restaurant at 203 Allen will seat fourteen tables and a stand-up bar, for […]

The Projects Jockeying for the $20M Chinatown Revitalization Funds

Several months ago, Governor Hochul announced a $20 million grant in the form of the Downtown Revitalization initiative (DRI).  Some forty sites around Chinatown were identified during the DRI process, which is led by a Local Planning Committee of community representatives and supported by State agency staff and a consultant team. That list was ultimately […]

Displaced Chinatown Business Returns Months After Devastating Fire

Four months after a deadly fire knocked out 78 Mulberry Street, one of its businesses returned to the scene. Ewa Trading Company reopened in its former Chinatown home earlier this week. The store had spent some of the interim displacement period selling from a shuttered Vietnamese restaurant a few paces north. The two-alarm fire broke […]

EDC Sues Essex Restaurant for Back Rent over Former Essex Market Lease

Three years removed from its relocation across Rivington Street, the city filed suit against the Essex restaurant for alleged unpaid rent. The Economic Development Corporation (EDC) sued Essex for nearly $60,000 in unpaid back rent on the former Essex Market building it previously occupied, according to the lawsuit filed Monday. The city entity claims that […]

Exile on Orchard Street: Tenement Museum Recreates Exhibits During Renovations

The Tenement Museum is amidst a preservation project at 97 Orchard Street, but will continue its programming with replicas not too far away. The 1863-era tenement this past Sunday embarked on “vital” restoration work to preserve its walls, floors, roof, as well as the installation of a new HVAC system that will provide improved climate […]