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NYC Community Gardeners Might Have New Protection in the Fight Against Development

(SMART CITIES) February 7, 2022

Along Coney Island’s boardwalk, a community garden once brimmed with vegetables and edible flowers rustling in the salty breeze. Almost entirely run by immigrants from Russia, Ukraine, Mexico, and Puerto Rico, the garden provided food, medicine, and solace to the Brooklyn neighborhood. “It was a really big, beautiful space for the community,” said Yury Opendik, a Coney Island resident who tended to the garden in the late 2000s. Opendik built a gazebo out of wood pallets in the garden, which he’d visit most evenings. “It brought a lot of peace into my life.”

The garden helped protect the community during Hurricane Sandy in 2012,  the deadly storm’s floodwaters. In the aftermath of the storm, Opendik and the other residents came together to rebuild the garden after it had been buried in sand. But this didn’t last long: It turned out that former Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz was eyeing the land for a music venue, and the city council and local planning commission approved a plan to develop the plot in 2013.

Late one December night that same year, the city sent construction workers to bulldoze the plot of land, without notifying to the people camping there, hoping to block the garden’s destruction. Opendik and the others gardeners gathered in the morning to watch as the garden they had been nurturing for years was turned to rubble. “It was heart-wrenching,” he recalls.

Source: Smart Cities