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NYC mayor bulldozes community gardens

By Deirdre Sinnott
New York

One of the Giuliani administration's last acts of 1997 was to send bulldozers into several community gardens in New York's East Village.

Some of the best organized and oldest gardens-including the 10th BC garden and the Mendez Mural garden-were ripped out of the neighborhood on Dec. 30. Even though organizers are still fighting in court to stop the demolition, bulldozers razed trees, small buildings, flowering plants, vegetables, play areas and much-needed green space.

In recent years the East Village neighborhood, and the gardens in particular, have become targets of real-estate developers looking for space for luxury condominiums and "market-rate" housing. Community gardens in Harlem, the South Bronx, Brooklyn and Staten Island have also been targeted. Some have been destroyed.

Wealthy developers have bought choice lots from the city through the Department of Housing Preservation and Development. They get tax deferments and subsidies to build.

According to Anastasia Pardalis of the New York City Coalition for the Preservation of Gardens, some of the developers do not even have building permits for the lots.

Pardalis said: "Over 300 gardens may be bulldozed in 1998. Gardens that were cleared in Brooklyn have just stood empty for over a year. The contracts and construction plans have fallen through, and in some of these lots people have planted again.

"People took it into their own hands to build and maintain these gardens and they have not been respected.

"During Mayor Giuliani's inauguration speech he said one of his priorities is to make New York a more beautiful city. There are approximately 11,000 truly vacant lots in the city and yet the gardens are his target. We plan to continue the fight to keep as many gardens as we can."

Two garden supporters were arrested when they protested during Giuliani's inauguration Jan. 1. To contact the New York City Coalition for the Preservation of Gardens, readers can visit the site at or call (212) 777-7969.

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