LAST night, October 14, the Land Use, Zoning, Public & Private Housing Committee of Community Board 3 voted to reject a plan to build a 16 unit apartment building on the garden site which had been proposed by the developer, William Gottlieb and NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development.
The Committee’s resolution will now go before the entire Community Board. The Committee voted to rescind a CB3 vote that took place two and a half years ago that supported the project. In October 2012, Siempre Verde Garden was founded and has become an integral and beloved part of the neighborhood.
The development proposal hinged on New York City giving the developer the two city owned lots, which are now make up Siempre Verde Garden. In exchange for the city property the developer agreed to include three affordable apartment units in the building. Many gardeners came out in support of Siempre Verde at this meeting. A discussion followed questioning if this proposal was the best use of this property given the dearth of green spaces in CB 3 south of Houston Street and whether just three affordable housing units was a good deal for the neighborhood. The Committee was very sympathetic to community concerns and voted accordingly. Great News!
Today, October 15, New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver came out today in support of Siempre Verde!
Speaker Silver said: “The Siempre Verde Garden is a vital green space that is enjoyed by so many of our neighbors. Here on the Lower East Side, public parks and gardens are at a premium and we cannot afford to lose this important community treasure. I urge the city to transfer this land to Parks Department so that it can be made a permanent community garden now and into the future.”
Right now the city property that Siempre Verde Garden rests on is under the jurisdiction of HPD, by transferring it to the Parks Department, this community garden will receive another level of protection.
Congratulations to all the Siempre Verde people who worked so hard to put together a very effective presentation last night at the CB3 Committee meeting and also set up a support petition drive for the garden that got over 900 signatures. Also Bill LoSasso, a community gardener, who sits on the committee was instrumental in drafting a proposal to move the garden into the Parks Department. Fantastic!