Deciding Ownership of the Garden

We have the opportunity to decide the ownership of WSMC Garden.

We’ve heard from representatives of petitioning organizations, Brooklyn Queens Land Trust (BQLT) and Brooklyn Alliance of Neighborhood Gardens (BANG).

Additional information can be downloaded from these links: BANG and BQLT.

We are meeting tomorrow to discuss our destiny.
Thursday, June 30th
In the Garden

The Story
Back in the good ol’ days, when New York City was bankrupt and its many abandoned lots were strewn with cast-off  tires, refrigerators, hypodermic needles, and trash, neighborhood groups rescued and repurposed some  as community gardens.  In the late 90’s, then-mayor Rudy Giuliani, wanting to clear the books of publicly owned real estate, began offering some of the 700 or so of the community garden lots for auction and development. Existing gardening groups protested vehemently, joined by a newly created coalition BANG, Brooklyn Alliance of Neighborhood Gardens.

The city was sued repeatedly – including by then State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, and in 1999, an injunction halted the sale of 114 of the garden lots. Spitzer brokered a settlement with the new mayor, Michael Bloomberg, that detailed the disposition of many of the community gardens. The Trust for Public Land, a national non-profit organization that is dedicated to preserving land – generally large tracts – offered to purchase 68 gardens in Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan and the Bronx. But because TPL’s practice hasn’t been to hold property, the plan was that it would convey the gardens’ deeds to local land trusts. To create the necessary local land trusts, TPL spent large resources culturing three: Manhattan, Bronx, and  Brooklyn-Queens. Now, more than 10 years later, TPL national offices in San Francisco are pressing the NY office to finalize conveyance of the New York deeds.

We must make a choice between two groups that want to hold our garden’s deed: BQLT, and BANG, which has reconvened after a long hiatus. The land trust we choose would be responsible in providing us insurance, services, repairs, and capital improvements. TPL wants to finalize its NYCity initiative and boast of its investment. Both BQLT and BANG want our garden in their portfolios.

Warren St Marks Community Garden

Warren St Marks Community Garden

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