May 1, 2014
For Immediate Release Contact: Aziz Dehkan, Executive Director,
New York City Community Garden Coalition (NYCCGC)
Contact Information: Aziz Dehkan, NYCCGC Executive Director
phone: 973.222.5413 email: email@example.com
BOARDWALK COMMUNITY GARDEN FILES SUIT AGAINST THE CITY, REACHES AGREEMENT TO POSTPONE PLANNED CONSTRUCTION OF AMPHITHEATER UNTIL CASE IS HEARD IN COURT
Brooklyn, NY — On Tuesday, April 29, members of the Coney Island Boardwalk Community Garden, whose decades-old garden was unjustly and illegally bulldozed by the City of New York in the early morning hours of December 28, 2013, reached a temporary agreement with the City and project developer iStar Financial, Inc., to postpone the planned construction of a $53 million amphitheater pending a lawsuit filed on April 18 by the gardeners, the New York City Community Garden Coalition, and the People’s Coalition of Coney Island.
In the agreement, the City and iStar agree that they do not intend to pursue any major construction on the site of the Boardwalk Garden, which currently sits unused and fenced-in, until at least a Kings County Supreme Court return date of June 10, and that they will provide the petitioners with ten days’ notice if they plan to perform any activity on the site beyond soil sampling or other non-invasive activities.
The gardeners, who had for years improved and gardened the seaside plot, have faced significant adversity in recent years. In addition to dealing with sewer and flooding problems endemic in the West Coney Island area, the gardeners were forced to rebuild their garden after it was destroyed by Hurricane Sandy. By the summer following the storm, after clearing tons of sand and debris, the community successfully returned the garden to its former bounty, only to see the City later step in and do what Hurricane Sandy could not—prevent them from using and enjoying their public space.
Instead of a garden that provided the multigenerational community with a source of both produce and great enjoyment, the City ants to convert the land into paved amphitheater seating, to be closed off to the public during an anticipated forty to fifty private concerts and events each year.
The amphitheater development is a pet project of former Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, who pushed the project through the City Counsel in the waning days of the Bloomberg Administration (and Markowitz’s final term in office). The project would also be a major boon to iStar, which stands to benefit both as project developer and from its sale of adjacent land to the City. Moreover, iStar owns approximately 70 percent of developable land around the amphitheater, and would benefit further from future development or increases in property value.
The gardeners remain frustrated but optimistic, even as they have nowhere at all to garden this year. But they are standing by ready to return once the City ends its illegal closure of their garden.