Boardwalk Community Garden Lawsuit Update

by NYCCGC on November 24, 2014

By NYCCGC President Ray Figueroa 

MARK YOUR CALENDARS & SPREAD THE WORD – COME OUT TO THE RALLY & PRESS CONFERENCE at 10:30 AM and to PACK THE COURTROOM at 12:15 PM on MONDAY, the 15TH of DECEMBER at BROOKLYN (KINGS COUNTY) STATE SUPREME COURT, 360 ADAMS STREET (in the same plaza as Borough Hall). WHY?

Read on.

After a formal court hearing back in June of this year, the judge in the Boardwalk Community Garden case, Judge Partnow (who was actually the
second judge to whom this case was assigned), decided to formally review the case, a process which we, the collective of plaintiffs in this lawsuit, understood would take at least the rest of the summer months. At that time, we were all cautiously encouraged by the fact that our case was going to be reviewed and decided on the merits of which we felt ours were very strong.

Shortly after the Labor Day holiday, our lawyers informed us that the Judge Partnow’s decision was imminent.

In October, after four months reviewing the case, the judge (Partnow) decided to recuse himself, i.e., to take himself off the case, with no
reason given for doing so. According to our attorneys, while this recusal and the lack of an explanation for it is well within the judge’s prerogative and is not without precedent, it is, to be sure, conspicuous by its timing. Generally speaking, most recusals occur very early on – at the outset of a case.

As per our lawyers from the New York Environmental Law and Justice Project:

“……this in no way reflects on the merits of our case. The new Judge will have to asses our case fairly and diligently, and will hopefully find that the law is in our favor, and that the amphitheater project will not only harm the environment and infrastructure in Coney Island, but also that its construction constitutes an illegal alienation of the Boardwalk Garden [as Parkland]. Furthermore, we still retain all rights to appeal a decision if the Judge rules otherwise — and we will do this, no matter what happens. The transfer of the case to a new Judge does however mean that a final decision is likely to be further delayed. The new Judge will likely want to conference with the parties, and he’ll then have to read through the lengthy submissions of both sides before writing his decision.”

The case has now been assigned to a new (third) judge – Judge Sweeney. The court set the date for the 1st of December. Earlier this month, we were informed by our attorneys that court date has been re-set for the 15th of December at 12:15 pm, Monday.

In the interim period, i.e., since the time that Judge Partnow had originally decided to review the case right through to the present, the City – albeit initially banned from beginning any construction at the garden site – has exploited certain legal technicalities in the law and has allowed the dumping of tons of construction waste into the Boardwalk Community Garden from another construction site in Brooklyn near the Brooklyn Academy of Music. One might reasonably ask, “Of all the construction dumping sites available, why and how was Boardwalk Community Garden chosen as a construction dumping site? Or, is it just coincidence?”

Consider the unannounced bulldozing of the garden under cover of night; the court delays (including the unusual timing of the second judge’s recusal); the recent news media distortions about community gardens as well as the construction waste dumping at the Boardwalk Community Garden as you contemplate your answer to that latter question.

And while there is ample justification here for anger and righteous indignation on our part, we’ve come through all these indignities none the worse for the wear.

Commenting in regards to the delay in the court case, our attorney, Seth Korman observed:

“…the delayed decision does tell us that they are taking our case seriously, and they’ve chosen not to quickly dismiss us, which courts are sometimes able to do in these types of cases.”

And so, at this very critical juncture, we encourage all concerned to remain resolute, disciplined, and very focused.

We need all concerned – in the Community Gardens Movement; in the Urban Farming Movement; in the Environmental Justice Movement; in the Food
Justice & Food Sovereignty Movement; in the Affordable Housing is a Human Right & Affordable Food is a Human Right Movement; in the Public Land for
the Public Good & Not for Private Profit Movement; in the Commons & Public Property Movement – all concerned to please:

MARK YOUR CALENDARS & SPREAD THE WORD – COME OUT TO THE RALLY & NEWS CONFERENCE at 10:30 AM and to PACK THE COURTROOM at 12:15 PM on MONDAY, the 15TH of DECEMBER at BROOKLYN (KINGS COUNTY) STATE SUPREME COURT, 360 ADAMS STREET (in the same plaza as Borough Hall).
Thank you.

Ray Figueroa

President

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Ray’s Program at the Friends of Brook Park Youth Farm highlighted in newly released Alternatives To Incarceration (ATI) Report, and Ray was a featured ATI
Panel Presenter!

NYCCGC president, Ray Figueroa, was a featured panelist on a panel: “MORE COMMUNITY RE-INVESTMENT, LESS YOUTH INCARCERATION” along with the Commissioner of the New York City Dept. of Probation, the Associate Commissioner for Juvenile Justice as well as senior members of the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice and other system-based and community-based stakeholders – all discussing  the findings of a recently released scientific report that resulted from a two year investigation of community-based Alternatives-To-Incarceration (ATI) for Youth.

That report included his community garden’s Youth Farm Program at Friends of Brook Park among others.  The report confirmed that community-based ATI
programs like the one at the Brook Park Youth Farm do work in reducing recidivism (i.e., re-arrest and re-incarceration) among youth at a
significantly higher rate than conventional criminal justice system programs which include incarceration and do so at significantly lower
costs. The Youth Farm Program is highlighted on page 16 of the report (PDF).

To see video footage of Ray’s panel presentation, click here. His remarks are at the following time-stamped intervals on the video:

1. 51:03 – 56:56;
2. 1:13:01 – 1:15:27; and,
3. 1:19:14 – 1:20:03 respectively.

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