LOWER EAST SIDE — Community gardeners fighting to protect their longtime home from development won support from Community Board 3 Thursday night.
Dozens of advocates for the Children's Magical Garden at Norfolk and Stanton streets marched into a meeting of CB3's Parks and Recreation Committee to the beat of a drum, chanting, “Save our garden” and “Make it permanent.”
The future of the park came under threat in May, when representatives of developer Serge Hoyda of Norfolk Street Development LLC arrived with a team of contractors to fence off the portion of the garden they own, citing safety concerns.
After receiving a petition with 1,900 signatures in favor of the garden and hearing from a crowd of about 30 parents, park enthusiasts and children wearing superhero costumes, the CB3 committee passed a resolution Thursday in support of using a land swap to permanently preserve the green space.
Community board members pledged to work with the developer and the city's Department of Housing Preservation and Development, which owns the remainder of the garden, to formally designate the space as park land, by giving the developer a different space elsewhere.
Norfolk Street Development LLC was not available for comment Thursday evening.
Among those celebrating at the community board meeting was Feng Chen, 17, a senior at Marta Valle High School who had her last AP English class in the Children's Magical Garden.
“The garden before wasn’t like this,” Chen, who has been gardening there for six years, told the community board members. “It was bricks and stones, but we built it together.”
The garden often hosts community events for children and also allows local schools, including Marta Valle, to use the property as an outdoor classroom.
Garden members will hold a rally on Saturday from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. to showcase its importance to the community and increase awareness.
Although most people at the Community Board 3 meeting supported the garden, James Gregg, 43, criticized it for not being properly maintained and operated.
Gregg, who lives two doors down from the garden, said he is not against the idea of community gardens but that Children’s Magical Garden is often locked and only serves a small part of the community.
The costume-wearing children booed after Gregg spoke.