CROWN HEIGHTS — Members of a Crown Heights community garden fighting a real estate developer that is trying to push them out of the space plan to paint a "Save the Garden" mural at the site this weekend.
Members of the Roger That Garden at 115 Rogers Ave. have were told to leave the site in January by reps for TYC Realty, which bought the lot for zero dollars in November of 2013, according to property records. The garden has operated from the lot since 2006.
But garden members said they're not going without a fight — and are inviting the public to join them when they paint a "Save the Garden" mural this weekend on the plywood barriers installed around the garden this summer by TYC.
“They haven’t been able to intimidate us out,” said Emily-Bell Dinan, a Roger That member who is helping to organize the repainting event this Saturday at 11:30 a.m.
Dinan said community members first painted the mural in August, but a sudden rain storm washed most of it away. Now, they’re doing it again “to raise awareness,” she said, and to encourage residents to “put their energy into saying what they want for the garden.”
When contacted by phone, TYC representative Steve Billings declined to answer questions about the property and hung up on a reporter.
Dinan said garden members have raised money in the past in hopes of making an offer to TYC to buy the property, but said the focus is off trying to negotiate with the real estate company, especially after TYC demanded up to $1 million for the land, she said.
“We’re not going to negotiate for a million dollars for something that somebody got for zero,” she said. “I think that’s kind of community terrorism.”
For now, Dinan said staff at City Councilman Robert Cornegy’s office have helped to prevent TYC from filing any new permits at the garden site until it can be determined how much money, if any, the new owners may owe in unpaid taxes.
Since 2000, tax liens totaling more than $214,000, including more than $9,200 filed after TYC took ownership, have been filed on the property, city records show.
No new building plans have been filed since TYC boarded up the garden in June, Department of Buildings records show.
Inquiries to Cornegy’s office and the Department of Finance about the property were not immediately returned.
The mural painting at the garden Saturday is open to the public, Dinan said, and brushes, paints and other materials will be provided. For more information on the event, visit the garden’s Facebook page.