Statement of Leslie Lowe,
New York City Environmental Justice Alliance re:
Garden Auction Cancellation and Pending Lawsuit
May 12, 1999
"This afternoon, it was announced
that the City had agreed to sell to the Trust for Public Land and the New York Restoration
Project all of the City gardens that were to be placed at auction tomorrow.We feel
that the pressure exerted by our coalition and others forced the City into taking
"Of course, weíre pleased that the immediate threat to those gardens has been
removed and we fully expect that the new owners will be fine landlords, but there
remain 685 gardens that are still at risk of being sold or developed.
"Therefore, the federal Title VI discrimination lawsuit brought by our organization,
the New York City Community Gardens Coalition and the More Gardens! Coalition will
"For us, it was never a question of only saving a few gardens. The issue is
the Cityís lack of policy on open space equity. Poor and working class communities
of color throughout this City have fewer acres of neighborhood parks and green space,
in general. Almost all the gardens that were to be auctioned were in neighborhoods
of color. At the same time, however, the City has been acquiring parkland, mostly
in Staten Island and in Queens for majority white neighborhoods. The statistics bear
this out. From 1996 to 1998, the City acquired 799 acres of new parkland. Staten
Island, whose population is 80% white, got 522 of those acres ó thatís more than
"Itís not that we think Staten Islanders donít deserve more parkland. We do
think, however, that the Cityís current policy on open space does not address the
equitable distribution of green space and parkland.
"We will continue to fight until the City has a policy in place that ensures,
well into the future, the fair acquisition and distribution of all City green spaces.
If that happens, no New Yorker will ever have to face the specter of a garden auction
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