2010-09-14 Time's Up! Statement on New Garden Rules

Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contacts:  Benjamin Shepard 917.586.7952; press@times-up.org
                 Susan Howard 917.207.6738

TIME'S UP! STATEMENT ON THE NEW GARDEN RULES 

More of Bloomberg’s Green Follies

Bloomberg Administration continues assault on green spaces, public spaces and voices.

New York, NY (September 14, 2010) - The same week the Parks Department cut down 56 trees in Lincoln Center to make way for Fashion Week, the City released new garden regulations with little notice, no community support, and no commitment to permanently preserve the community gardens. Despite the thousands who volunteer to keep our community gardens and parks green, and widespread support for preserving these oases, the City's new rules fail to protect them, and in fact expose each and every green space to transfer and development. At a time when city is awash in empty apartments and store fronts we need protect these cherished pockets of nature, preserve them and keep them open to the public. Gardens are crucial to the mental, physical and emotional health of our City's residents and play an ever increasingly important role in our City's environmentally sustainable and socially just future.

Importantly, the new rules violate the City’s 2002 agreement with the Attorney General. The City has ignored the permanent status of 198 gardens and has not done a State Environmental Quality Review of the gardens, both required under the 2002 Settlement Agreement

Under the new rules, you can lose your garden for a myriad of reasons – noise complaints, incidents that occur adjacent to gardens, and or failure to maintain "good standing". Gardens can now go into accelerated default for breaking any city, state or federal rules, or failing to renew their license, or registration.

These new rules police the gardens and chill the community’s ability to hold events.

"Already, gardens are reluctant to hold events for fear of noise complaints. Under the new rules, you can go into accelerated default for playing guitar and having a beer, yet you can enjoy a glass of wine on the great lawn in Central Park while listening to an orchestra," says Susan Howard, long-time gardener & Time's Up! volunteer. 

The new rules establish a division between gardens in good and bad standing, establishing a mechanism for the hyper-regulation and control of public space. Before these new rules, you just needed a license, now if you do not have one, your garden can be bulldozed.

The “revised” rules are as hostile to garden preservation as the initial draft rules that triggered unprecedented public opposition. In particular, Section 6-04, states gardens under parks are “preserved… Except as provided in section 6-05 of this chapter.” Yet, section 6-05 provides for transfer and development.

"We urge the city to fulfill its commitment to green urban spaces by permanently preserving the community gardens and supporting those who hope to create new such spaces," says Time's Up! spokesperson Barbara Ross.

Relevant Links:

Video footage of the City bulldozing gardens, including a partial list of the 160 community gardens destroyed since 2002

Video of Time's Up! Paul Revere Dance Ride to save the gardens

Time's Up's response to Park Commissioner Adrian Benepe's Op-ed

Esperanza Community Garden bulldozed Feb 2000, East Village, NYC

"East Village Gardens" Condo built on Esperanza Community Garden site