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Gardens Demonstration

alias writes: "MORE GARDENS! GARDEN ACTIVISTS TO PRESENT TENS OF THOUSANDS OF SIGNATURES TO CITY ADMINISTRATORS IN A BID TO PLACE A GARDEN-SAVING REFERENDUM ON THE NOVEMBER BALLOT.

On Wednesday August 1, at 11:30am, Community Garden activists will conclude the Vote For Gardens campaign with a festive, musical march on City Hall including beautiful garden-themed puppets, souza-style music, and wheelbarrows full of signatures. After a noon press conference, they will present them to the city clerk for verification. At the press conference will be Kenneth M. Fischer, and representatives from numerous gardening, housing, and environmental groups such as the NYC Garden Coalition, The Green Guerillas, Metropolitan Council on Housing, New York Environmental Justice Alliance, and More Gardens Coalition.

The three month old signature drive, which has garnered 30,000 signatures at last count with more coming in every day, is the latest tactic gardeners have used in their ongoing effort to save the communtiy gardens of New York. With the city adminstration’s known hostility towards the gardens, and Peter Vallone’s refusal to move much needed protective legislation to the floor (Ken Fischer’s Intro 742 and 743), dedicated garden supporters decided it was time to try and force a referendum onto the ballot and allow the citizens of New York to decide for themselves what the fate of the gardens should be. The response has been incredible. Hundreds of volunteers have pitched in and tens of thousands of New Yorkers have anxiously, enthusiastically signed on. Agreement was nearly universal: return administration of the gardens to the Parks Deparment and make them into permanent green spaces!

With the State Supreme court’s recent ruling (keeping in place the temporary injunction which protects the community gardens), and the judge’s insistence that all parties come to the negotioating table, it is increasingly evident that a permanent legislative solution for the community gardens must be found. So far the city has shown no interest in involving anyone in that process other than big-money real-estate developers and their friends at the Department of Housing Preservation and Development, the agency which was given control of the gardens in 1998.

As the Mayoral campaign heats up, the question of who is willing to create a greener more livable city will continue to be raised. Who will step up and do the bidding of the people? Who will pledge to make all the gardens permanent and to use truly vacant lots to develop true low income housing? The issue of community gardens is central to questions of long-term urban planning, local control, democracy, and environmental justice."