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Volunteers Fight to Save Crown Heights Community Garden

By Sonja Sharp | January 21, 2014 8:01am
 A group of Crown Heights neighbors are rallying to save a community garden at the corner of Rogers Avenue and Park Place in Crown Heights. 
Volunteers Fight to Save Roger That! Community Garden
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CROWN HEIGHTS — Green-thumbed activists are fighting to save their community garden at Rogers Avenue and Park Place after a developer announced plans to raze it.

The volunteers of Roger That! community garden said they were recently notified that they must vacate their 3-year-old plot at 115 Rogers Ave., or else lose their handmade plant boxes and compost bins to a bulldozer.

"We're taking up arms to either get more time to clean things out before they bulldoze or to buy the space," said volunteer Oona Wally, 25, who lives across the street from the garden.

Garden coordinator Emily Dinan, who worked with neighbor Richard Green of the Crown Heights Youth Collective to install the garden in the empty lot in 2011, said she and other gardeners were recently approached by representatives for developer TYC Realty, Inc. The company took over the lot late last year, property records show.

"I was applying for a grant, and all of a sudden I saw sale of deed [in the property records]," said Dinan, adding that the site used to house an abandoned building but it was razed several years ago and converted into a garden.

Volunteers said TYC Realty has given them a chance to make an offer on the property. They are currently working with the Brooklyn Queens Land Trust, which works with grassroots groups to preserve community gardens, in hopes of finding a way to purchase the plot, they said. 

TYC Realty did not immediately return calls for comment.

Volunteers gathered at the garden on Sunday, circulating petitions to their neighbors and erecting a "Save Our Garden" sign on the surrounding chain link fence.

Land Trust President Demetrice Mills met with gardeners and advocates at the gathering and advised them to keep tending the plot while they negotiate with the developer. 

"All we can do is try to find out legitimate information like who really is the owner, was it really sold and what kind of tax is on it, if any, and what they plan to do with it," Mills said. "The main thing is the research."