Save Community Gardens on HPD Land
Dear Mayor Bill de Blasio,
Almost a year has passed since 18+ GreenThumb community gardens became threatened with demolition due to their inclusion on a development site list published on January 14, 2015. An overwhelming response by gardeners, NY City Council Members, concerned citizens, and advocacy groups such as the New York City Community Garden Coalition (NYCCGC) and 596 Acres resulted in a large demonstration at City Hall on February 10, 2015, and at the Brooklyn Museum on November 17, 2015.
The issue has been covered in media outlets such as the New York Times, New York Observer, Columbia Spectator, DNAinfo, WNYC, WFUV news, Telemundo, Curbed NY, Habitat, and more. In the New York Times article dated February 11, 2015, you stated:
“I’m a big supporter of our more than 600 community gardens,” Mayor de Blasio said. “They contribute to our neighborhoods’ fabric and livability. Only 17 sites will even be considered for affordable housing, and we’ll take a hard look at whether communities are best served by these gardens staying as they are. We’ll make those decisions in partnership with each community.”
The article continued:
"Representatives from GreenThumb and H.P.D. met on Jan. 30. And daily conversations have continued about an agreement that would preserve some or all of the 20 gardens."
Despite this (old) news, your statement of support, and the fact that the gardens have this year received letters of support from Borough Presidents, local Community Boards and City Council Members, the threatened gardens remain on HPD’s current list of potential development sites.
We demand that you come out in support of our community determined spaces by granting their protection and transferring them to the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation.
Community gardens are vital spaces and should not be destroyed because:
- Community gardens are an integral part of New York City’s green infrastructure, aiding the city in mitigating ongoing impacts from climate change. They are community resiliency hubs affording free access to fresh food, organic waste processing, environmental education, while also absorbing stormwater runoff, filtering the air, cooling the environment and supporting urban wildlife and pollinators.
- The 18+ community gardens represent less than 2% of HPD’s assigned lots. HPD can and should develop housing on lots where there are no community gardens.
- Despite offering the lots to developers for $1, the HPD program will not create housing that is truly affordable to the residents of the neighborhoods in which they would be built, further contributing to gentrification and displacement.
- Many neighborhoods undergoing development are already lacking significant open green space. Destroying community gardens to make way for housing unaffordable to local median income further stresses existing open space ratios while increasing population. This benefits neither the neighborhood nor its existing residents.
Destroying the very fabric of community that these gardens provide, to build housing that the local residents cannot afford, is an affront to our communities and a lose-lose proposition that must not go forward. Instead, let’s create a win-win for all by preserving NYC’s community gardens while developing needed, real affordable housing on truly vacant lots held by the City of New York.
- Mayor of New York City
Bill de Blasio
Save Community Gardens on HPD Land
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