Asphalt Lot Is Fine Substitute for Bulldozed Garden, Ed Department Says

By Leslie Albrecht on April 8, 2013 6:50am 

PARK SLOPE — Their field of dreams has turned into a field of pavement.

Residents near the new P.S. 133 on Fourth Avenue say the School Construction Authority broke its promise to replace a beloved community garden that was bulldozed when the school was built — offering them instead a fenced-in asphalt lot.

Locals fought a passionate battle to preserve the Baltic Street community garden when it was uprooted in 2009 to make way for the new 900-seat school, which opens this fall on Fourth Avenue between Baltic and Butler streets. They won a promise from the SCA to provide a "3,000-square-foot replacement garden" next to the new school.

But when construction on the school finished recently, neighbors were outraged to find that the replacement garden was actually a swath of pavement more suitable to parking cars than planting flowers.

"It will need to have raised plant beds (trays) because the section will be asphalt," Department of Education spokeswoman Marge Feinberg said in an email, adding that the space "will be fenced, have electricity for lighting, drainage and two water sources, one for regular city water and one rainwater retention system."

The garden, a neighborhood fixture for 30 years, had benches, pathways, mature peach trees and a trumpet vine with fiery orange blossoms and was a welcome contrast to industrial Fourth Avenue.

The School Construction Authority had promised to replace the community garden, which the SCA described as an "important asset to the community" in the environmental impact statement for the school construction project.

After a posting about the paved garden area appeared on Brownstoner, several disappointed residents called and emailed City Councilman Stephen Levin, who has contacted the SCA to express his dismay, his spokesman said.

"People were really upset," said S.J. Avery, a longtime Butler Street resident. "Giving you slab of asphalt with a fence around it does not rise to the standard of a replacement garden."

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