NYCCGC Convenes Important Town Hall Meeting at The New School

Community gardeners line up to voice their concerns at the Parks Department’s public hearing, held August 10, 2010.

Event: NYCCGC Town Hall Meeting
Date: Saturday, October 2, 2010
Location: The New School - Wollman Hall, 66 W. 12th St.
Time: 12:00pm - 4:00pm

On October 2, 2010, the New York City Community Garden Coalition (NYCCGC) will convene a Town Hall Meeting to discuss the recently published "new rules" for community gardens on City land set to go into effect on October 13, 2010, as well as look to alternative legal strategies for long-term preservation.

While media reports have characterized the Coalition's opinion of the rules as favorable, NYCCGC has officially held comment, and has been meeting with Coalition members, conferring with other greening groups, and consulting with legal experts to fully assess the scope and impact of the recently updated rules. "We held comment on the new rules for a reason," says NYCCGC President Karen Washington. "The far-reaching impact of these rules is not something to be taken lightly, and needs to be analyzed thoroughly. While we appreciate that steps in the right direction have been made, there are still some serious concerns that need to be addressed before we claim total victory for the City's community gardeners.

NYCCGC had originally been involved with the drafting of the new rules, but negotiations eventually broke off, leaving the Coalition and its allies frustrated. On the morning of August 10, NYCCGC rallied supporters, helping fill Parks’ public hearing regarding the rules to overflow capacity. Over 300 garden devotees shared their passion as well as their consternation at the then-proposed rules, ultimately having a positive impact on the recently published rules.

One revelation that came to light at the hearing is that in many minds, including that of Christopher Amato, who served as lead attorney in the NY State Attorney General’s landmark lawsuit against the City, is that the gardens were and still are protected by the 2002 “Community Gardens Agreement,” which Amato also helped author.

12:00pm - 2:00pm: The first half of the Town Hall meeting will include an introduction to the current state of community garden affairs, followed by analysis of the new rules governing community gardens on city-owned land by several experts in the field of environmental justice.

2:00pm - 4:00pm: The second half of the event will be devoted to looking above and beyond the new rules: the pervasive sentiment, shared by supporters including City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Parks and Recreation Committee Chair Melissa Mark-Viverito, and Christina Grace of the NYS Office of Community Gardens, is that true permanency for the gardens lies in legislation. Several legal strategies will be discussed; the Coalition is urging all elected local and state representatives with an interest in this important environmental justice issue to attend.

Both sessions will conclude with comments from invited greening groups, and an open question & answer period.