Critical Vote on Elizabeth Street Garden Tomorrow


Critical Vote on Elizabeth Street Garden Tomorrow

Critical Vote on Elizabeth Street Garden Tomorrow
Jun 20, 2019

On June 11, 2019, the Land Use Committee of the New York City Council voted unanimously to approve the Haven Green development in the city’s North of Little Italy neighborhood. Before the vote was taken, Chairman Rafael Salamanca, Jr., acknowledged the controversial nature of the project:    

This was a much debated application, but the dialogue led to a balanced project and a better outcome overall. We have strengthened the integrity of this project by modifying it to ensure that the open space will be preserved in perpetuity, and open to the public for approximately twelve hours per day, depending on the season.

The lush, well-maintained community space is hardly "injurious to the public welfare" - Photo courtesy Elizabeth Street Garden, 2018

In a vote of 14 – 0, the committee then approved the mixed-use development, which would destroy the Elizabeth Street Garden, an open-air, community garden created by local gallery owner Allan Reiver after he leased the derelict site from the city in 1991. Reiver, who has been described as an outsider artist by the New York Times, developed the space into a community garden featuring neoclassical sculptures from his own collection.

The Haven Green project will next see a vote before the full City Council on June 26. In the meantime, the two lawsuits that have been filed against the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) will continue, claiming that “HPD arbitrarily, capriciously and in violation of law did not fulfill its legally mandated obligation to take a “hard look" at and to thoroughly analyze the potential adverse environmental impacts that would result from Respondents' proposal to destroy and develop Elizabeth Street Garden.” One goal of the lawsuits is thus to direct the city to produce an Environmental Impact Statement that would more fully assess the implications of destroying the open, green space in a community where such space is sorely lacking.

TCLF enrolled the Elizabeth Street Garden in its Landslide program in November 2018 after it was alerted to the threat. The garden’s website includes opportunities to donate to the legal fund and to aid in efforts to prevent the site from being demolished.