Southern Brooklyn

In Midnight Raid, City Bulldozes Community Garden In Proposed Amphitheater’s Footprint

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Source: NYC Preservation Commission
A rendering of the proposed amphitheater.

Well, the city may drag its feet when it comes to repairing the pothole in front of your house, but when it comes to tearing up community gardens, boy, do they move quickly.

The proposed Seaside Park and Community Arts Center, a.k.a. the 5,099-seat amphitheater doggedly sought by outgoing Borough President Marty Markowitz, was given the go-ahead just a mere 10 days ago. Yet, while you might wait months or even years to see a sidewalk crack repaired, the city was quick to evict a beloved community garden in the construction site’s footprint.

Bulldozers were deployed in the middle of the night on Sunday, and workers threw out the gardener’s tools and wheelbarrows, and removed their chickens and a colony of feral cats.

The New York Post reports:

The chickens were placed in pet carriers on the sidewalk and the felines were left fending for themselves.

“They destroyed life!” fumed tearful volunteer Elena Voitsenko, 60, a Russian immigrant who told The Post she’ll take in the birds until they find a new home.

“‎I came to America to escape from the communist regime,” she added. “This is more than the communist regime! They came at 4 in the morning.”

The land the garden sits on is city-owned, and is where seating for the amphitheater will be located. It’s next to the Childs Restaurant building, which will be the stage – and which has not yet been purchased by the city.

But even though the project is still several years off (unless similarly expedited), the city went ahead and gave the boot to the 30-year-old garden regardless of a request for a stay of execution.

Throughout Saturday, volunteers recovered their belongings after workers knocked down plots for tomatoes, cabbage, zucchinis and other vegetables.

Residents say they’ve run the garden since the 1980s.

The city Economic Development Corp., which is spearheading the project, referred questions to the borough president. Markowitz’s office did not respond to requests for comment.

But Mark Cottingham, a consultant for the project, said the urban farm was decommissioned in 2004 and was operating illegally.

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