Southern Brooklyn

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

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.

Comment policy


  1. um, a little different. The Thunderbolt had not operated in many years, if not decades and was growing moss on it. That field to this day is home for rats (the 2 legged types, not our politicians) and gosh knows what else is living there.
    I don’t necessary agree with this technique, but I certainly understand it. Things have gotten so bureaucratic, and there are so many thousands of convoluted laws, that anybody can stop anything from being done at this point. Anything can be blocked for years if not decades. I note the new technique of demanding an “environmental study” now as a favorite obstructionist tactic. Going to court, threatening lawsuits, citing archaic and contradictory laws, etc. If anything needs to get done, these “midnight massacres” are they way they must do it now.
    Let’s not forget “Shoot The Freak” as another example. In that case the guy with the loud speaker was so obnoxious that an environmental improvement was made in bulldozing that amusement.

  2. My comment should not be read as agreeing with this particular action. My opinion is divided. On one hand, I very much liked that garden, and others throughout that area. On the other hand, oceanfront land should be used for income-producing endeavors, not for bus depots and gardens. The city needs money for worthwhile endeavors, and oceanfront land is wasted money if not used to generate tax revenue.

  3. I hate these midnight demolitions, so sneaky, no dignity to it at all. No respect for the work and creative efforts that took place there. I loved this garden, but for the first time I think the proposed use of the land, that takes its place might be worth it. I hated the proposed potato chip at Asser Levy park, but I agree that the area needs a good venue for outdoor entertainment. I’ve fantasized about what the Childs restaurant building could be since I was kid, and I’m thrilled that it will be a public venue, not a ritzy hotel or some other nonsense. I’ve heard that the city has promised the gardeners another space, is that true? I really feel for them, and I am sorry for their loss, but I look forward to seeing how this space develops. It’s the first project I’ve been excited about in C.I. for a long, long time. The Thunderbolt demolition broke my heart, too, so I feel ya, cabbie.


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