Community Garden Advocates Demand Parks Protections

By Maria Eugenia Miranda
|  Wednesday, Aug 4, 2010  |  Updated 4:15 PM EDT
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Community Garden Advocates Demand Parks Protections

Barbara Ross, Time's Up

City Councilwoman Christine Quinn speaks Wednesday on the steps of City Hall in support of keeping current community garden protections in place.

Heck no, the roses won't go.

Community garden advocates are standing their ground and demanding that the city parks department keep rules in place to keep plots in the five boroughs from being bulldozed by developers.

The New York City Community Garden Coalition protested Wednesday on the steps of City Hall about a new set of park rules published by The City Record that don't maintain current protections for community gardens. Regulations established by the  2002 State Attorney General’s Memorandum of Agreement  expire on Sept. 17.

"The new rules just don't have the language to protect them like that," said Sean-Michael Fleming, a member on the board of directors for the organization. "We had to fight for the gardens."

Time's Up, another environmental organization, fought to get the 2002 regulations in place. Barbara Ross, a volunteer for Time's Up, was at the rally Wednesday.

"Right now the market isn't that great for buildings, but five years down the road that might change," she said, emphasizing that gardens should be preserved despite future market pressures.

About 70 demonstrators showed up for about an hour this morning and speakers voiced their concerns. City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito pledged their support to the community garden advocates.

Karen Washington, the president of the coalition's board, said in a statement, “The city must realize the importance of community-controlled green spaces … for the overall health of the city and its residents.”

On Aug. 10, a public hearing will be held on the proposed rules at the Chelsea Recreation Center at 430 West 25th Street at 11 a.m. Fleming hopes that with the support of Speaker Quinn and Councilwoman Mark-Viverito the 2002 protections will be made permanent. He added that the parks commissioner's office and Mayor Michael Bloomberg's administration have expressed that they are open to considering advocates' pleas.  

"We think the tide is turning," he said.

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