Information about this lot
Why is this lot here?
We think this lot is vacant because:
This lot is part of the Saratoga Square urban renewal plan. It was planned as open space.
promising response from colleen, nyc park's chief of parklands and real estate:
Alderson, Colleen (Parks)
Sep 8 (4 days ago)
to Kelsey, mara, stephanie, organizers
I am forwarding your correspondence to our Green Thumb Office and will confer with them on status of their review and then Kelsey and I can take any next steps.
Have a good weekend,
We sent a letter to NYC Parks' Chief of Parklands and Real Estate this week requesting the transfer of this lot to NYC Parks asap! Read it at http://596acres.org/letter-requesting-transfer-for-five-gardens/. Here's an excerpt:
August 31, 2017
Chief of Parklands and Real Estate
NYC Department of Parks and Recreation
830 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10065
RE: Request for transfer of vacant lots to NYC Parks so they can become GreenThumb gardens
With your help, five community gardens that GreenThumb has approved for transfer can become real.
In each case, groups of neighbors have completed the process for starting a new garden. They have identified which vacant lots on their blocks are in the inventory of NYC agencies that do not have active plans for them. They have committed to their future stewardship as community gardens, developing proposals with plans for how the space be used and how they will share the work of maintaining it. They have gained support from hundreds of fellow neighbors, local businesses, schools, community organizations, and their Community Boards. They have completed GreenThumb registration and met with their GreenThumb Outreach Coordinators who are ready to support them.
To make their visions real, people who live near these vacant lots have been requesting that they be transferred to the inventory of NYC Department of Parks and Recreation from the city agencies that do not have active plans for them. GreenThumb has approved these sites for transfer.
We are writing to request that you expedite the transfer of the following properties to NYC Parks. This will ensure they can be transformed from waste spaces that have long added to the hardships of life for those who live nearby, into the beautiful, inclusive community parks and gardens that these same people need and desire! Please enjoy the stories and the photos that follow:
Brooklyn block 1538, lot 43 at 45 Somers Street near Rockaway Ave in Weeksville, Brooklyn. Reference page with garden proposal: https://livinglotsnyc.org/lot/3015380043/
Some historical background: Weeksville is one of the US’ first free black communities. Starting in the 1930s, the lot was within the red lines of the Homeowner’s Loan Corporation’s infamous redline maps so systematically denied access to credit. In addition, it was cleared by NYC and planned as open space in the Saratoga Square Urban Renewal Plan of 1992, which is still active. This plan was briefly actualized in the early 1990s, when GrowNYC, then called Council on the Environment of New York City (CENYC), worked with the adjacent daycare, Love In Action #2 Day Care Center, to build a playground on the lot as part of CENYC’s Lots for Tots program. Between then and now, Love In Action #2 Day Care Center closed, the Lots for Tots program ended, and the playground fell into disrepair and was removed. The lot has been languishing since in the inventory of DCAS or ACS (there’s discrepancy in the city’s own records), though the Saratoga Square Urban Renewal Plan for Open Space here remain active.
About An EDEN [Enlightened Development Empowered Neighborhood] Garden: A teen and urban farmer who lives near this lot sparked this campaign to create a garden. She connected us to her youth group, DUECES. The young people came up with an incredible plan in partnership with neighbors, elderly growers, and the daycare next door. Their garden, An EDEN Garden, is focused on youth empowerment, community-led development, education and intergenerational learning. With a powerful, youth-led presentation, they inspired and gained unanimous support from their community board. In addition, they were awarded funds from the Building Healthy Communities and GreenThumb Growing Food Capacity grant to make their plan real!
When GreenThumb staff visited the site this summer, they saw growing beds on the land which we hear deterred them from moving the transfer forward, despite their demonstrated support for these future young gardeners. However, these beds result from people becoming aware, through neighborhood organizing, that this long neglected land is actually owned by NYC and has potential to become a public resource! The people growing these beds could easily be contacted with good news, and they could cease; they would very much prefer to have their growing be official and supported by the government!
We got a call from another neighbor two weeks ago who saw the signs up here and wants to make sure this becomes a community garden. I called her back and left a voicemail with the latest.
After a powerful campaign that won the support of so many people, DUECES is still waiting for access. Though the city's Urban Renewal Plan to make this into Open Space, created in 1992, is still active, the lot still hasn't been transferred to Parks. Their plans are unclear and we are trying to find out more.
Here's what we do know about this lot: the NYC Department of City Planning's PLUTO database lists the owner as the Department of General Services. This City department stopped existing decades ago; its holdings fell into the inventory of DCAS. From the beginning, Aaron and fellow organizers have been in touch with Kyle at DCAS, keeping him updated on their progress.
As late as November 2015, the Department of Finance still has the Department of General Services' address on file as the owner of this lot.
Backstory: this lot was once privately-owned. On the infamously racist Homeowners Loan Corporation (HOLC) red line map for Brooklyn, it is within the red lines (you can view the 1938 map here). Most banks refused to lend in this area because the federal government itself had assessed it as a risky place to invest, refusing to insure mortgages banks offered there. Though the maps were made just as the USA was sliding into the Great Depression in the 1930s, they were used, without updates, for decades.
With lack of access to capital, maybe that's why the previous owner didn't keep up this property or pay their taxes: the NYC Department of Finance records, accessed via the city's Automated City Register Information System (ACRIS) system, indicate this document that the city foreclosed in rem on this lot in 1977, using unpaid tax liens.
My guess is that this lot was vacant before the city took ownership in 1977, and since then, too, with a brief stint as a playground: in 1991 GrowNYC, then called Council on the Environment of New York City (CENYC), worked with the adjacent daycare, Love In Action #2 Day Care Center, to build a playground on the lot as part of CENYC's Lots for Tots program. The playground featured Kompan play equipment, numerous plantings, and a large balloon-themed mural. After Love In Action #2 Day Care Center closed, the playground fell into disrepair and was removed. The lot was abandoned again. I've CC'd Mike Rezny for GrowNYC, who shared this backstory and can speak more about it the Lots for Tots program.
Then, in 1992, the City planned for this lot to become Open Space in the Saratoga Square Urban Renewal Plan. This plan is still active today (it expires in 2032).
Neighbors are still waiting. Its neglect by the city has been blighting the very neighborhood that An E.D.E.N. garden will enliven. It seems that the city's own Department of City Planning's records about this lot are erroneous. The gardeners' plan will fulfill the city's own still-active Urban Renewal plan. It has been decades.
The Building Healthy Communities Grant that DUECES received for An EDEN Garden comes from the Fund for Public Health in NYC in collaboration with NYC Parks GreenThumb. So when they all met in February for DUECES to receive the grant, they turned in a paper copy of their GreenThumb application, too, to Bill, their outreach coordinator!
Tomorrow, April 20 at 10am, Bill is meeting with the future land stewards at the site to plan next steps. It seems that the lot's jurisdiction has not been transferred to Parks yet, but it's close. Let's follow up to make sure this happens ASAP so the group can get growing this spring with help from Bill at GreenThumb!
Huge congrats to DUECES for getting so many behind their vision.
Congratulations to DUECES and An E.D.E.N. Garden for being awarded funds from the Building Healthy Communities and GreenThumb Growing Food Capacity grant!
Join organizers Wednesday February 15th at 6pm at the Saratoga Branch of the Brooklyn Public Library (8 Thomas S Boyland Street, downstairs meeting room) to finalize the garden design!
community board voted YES UNANIMOUSLY in support of the development of a new #brownsville #communitygarden by these youth. #dueces #thislandisyourland #thislandisourland
Join organizers tomorrow at Saratoga Branch of the Brooklyn Public Library (8 Thomas S Boyland Street) tomorrow, Friday, December 9 at 4pm to plan for the presentation at the community board.
Tonight at 7pm! Neighbors are presenting their plan for community space at 45 Somers at the Land Use, Planning and Zoning Committee of Brooklyn Community Board 16 tonight at 444 Thomas Boyland (Room 103). NYC planned for open space in 1992, and now young people are making it real through grassroots organizing. The group will request that the lot be transferred to NYC Parks so they can manage the space they are planning together through GreenThumb, and they need the Community Board's support! Come show yours and plug in.
It will be good to have lots of people there to talk about our land. The Land Use Committee will also be discussing the housing proposal that has been made for Green Valley Community Garden and Farmer's Market at Sackman and New Lots Ave (livinglotsnyc.org/lot/58882/), a nearly 20 year old garden that is at risk of disappearing.
Last night, Sharon invited us to join her in planting daffodil bulbs TOMORROW, Friday November 11 at 10am at Phoenix Community Garden, the big beautiful green place right across from this lot! A great opportunity to ask her more questions about how their garden members manage the space together - to inform your proposal.
DUECES members who volunteered to present your vision at the Land Use, Planning and Zoning Committee coming up next Tuesday, November 15 at 7pm at 444 Thomas Boyland are meeting on Monday at 4pm at the Saratoga Branch of the Brooklyn Public Library to rehearse (8 Thomas Boyland). It's gotta be a super focused meeting - just on preparing a nice, brief presentation! Contact Aaron to see about plugging in to that: firstname.lastname@example.org, 3475897583
A few notes from the meeting on Wednesday, November 9 at the Saratoga Branch of the Brooklyn Public Library, planning and preparing to bring a presentation to Community Board 16's Land Use, Planning and Zoning Committee meeting on November 15. Among the items discussed were 1. Ideas and Visions for the garden and 2. Usage and operations.
Ideas and visions for the garden:
-Educational: There can be classes in it, the neighboring day care could use it or gardening classes.
-Play areas for children: ideas include interactive musical areas and mini gardens.
-Art: paintings or murals
- An interest in the garden specializing in Herbs and Spices
-Items for play like tires and spin wheels
-Fruits and/or fruit trees
Who will use and when:
-Open to the community, members (maybe with keys) help provide access to the garden. Membership requirements, bylaws and agreements to be decided.
-Aiming to be open 25 hours a week, 5 hours a day, closed Tuesdays and Sundays.
-Local high schoolers could fulfill their volunteer requirements by helping out.
-Working with neighboring Phoenix garden to plan and host neighborhood events and fundraisers.
-A committee of some kind to help plan out plantings and harvesting.
We are in touch with Council Member Mealy's staff about this lot in her district. See email exchange below.
On 11/9/16 11:17 AM, Francis, Shawn wrote:
Thank you for reaching out to me.
Mr. Hinton made mention of the lot at the Advisory Board meeting but we did not get into a full description of what is taking place. The correct person to address the concerns is Mr. Saunders which whom I have included as he is our Legislative and Budget Director whom this information should be directed to.
All inquiries and meetings request can be addressed to Mr. Saunders along with our Chief of Staff Ms. Sarissa Phillips-Singletary who is also copied on this email.
Council Member Darlene Mealy
1757 Union Street, 2nd Floor
Brooklyn, NY 11213
Tel: (718) 953-3097
Fax: (718) 953-3276
City Hall Office
250 Broadway, Suite 1778
New York, NY 1007
Tel: (212) 788-7387
Fax: (212) 442-0292
-------- Forwarded Message --------
Subject: Re: Activating the planned Open Space at 45 Somers
Date: Wed, 9 Nov 2016 12:38:47 -0500
From: Paula Z. Segal email@example.com
To: Francis, Shawn SFrancis@council.nyc.gov, Saunders, Lawrence LSaunders@council.nyc.gov, Phillips-Singletary, Sarissa SPhillips-Singletary@council.nyc.gov
CC: firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com, Mara firstname.lastname@example.org, Cedward268@gmail.com, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, Kyle Daniels (DCAS) email@example.com
Thank you so much, Shawn!
Great to meet you, Mr. Saunders and Ms. Phillips-Singletary,
Residents of the district are putting together an proposal that for NYC Parks Department GreenThumb, asking them to request that DCAS transfer Brooklyn block 1538, lot 43 at 45 Somers to NYC Parks so the group can steward it. The group plans to present to CB16's Land Use Committee on November 15 at 7pm. Will anyone from your office be there?
It would be wonderful to get a letter of support from Council Member Mealy endorsing this request. Here are details about the lot: http://livinglotsnyc.org/lot/3015380043/
Let us know if a meeting after November 15 would be helpful! We can also forward a sample letter.
Paula Z. Segal, Esq.
596 Acres, Inc.
540 President St #2E
Gowanus, Brooklyn NY 11215
📞 718-316-6092 x 2
NEXT MEETING UPDATE: Wednesday, November 9 from 6pm to 8pm in the meeting room of the Saratoga Branch of the Brooklyn Public Library: 8 Thomas S Boyland St at Macon St. Organizers will be planning for the future of this lot and preparing to present that plan to Community Board 16's Land Use, Planning and Zoning Committee meeting on November 15! Join them!
Save the Date: This group of organizers will be presenting their plan for a community space on this lot at the next meeting of Community Board 16's Land Use, Planning and Zoning Committee: Tuesday, November 15, at 7pm at 444 Thomas S. Boyland Street - Room 103. Come show your support for these local organizers!
It will be good to have lots of people there. The Land Use Committee will also be discussing the housing proposal that has been made for Green Valley Community Farm (livinglotsnyc.org/lot/58882/) at Sackman and New Lots Ave.
A meeting to prepare this presentation is planned for Wednesday, November 9. Stay tuned for details!
Local organizations and businesses can send in letters of support for this project using this template: http://livinglotsnyc.org/media/files/45SomersLetter_TEMPLATE_1.docx
Their will be a meeting at the lot at 4:30 on Saturday October 8th. I hope you can all make it and I look forward to see you and please bring a friend who would be interested in helping make the community a better place.
Had a great meeting yesterday with Cyeann, Patricia and Sharon! They scoped out the lot and began drawing up a plan for how to use the space.
We are meeting THIS SATURDAY, Sept 24 at 4pm at Phoenix Garden to continue working on garden plans! Phoenix Garden is the beautiful, triangle-shaped GreenThumb community garden right across the street from this lot. See you there.
The childcare center next door would be a great campaign ally. Maybe parents want to help gather petition signatures:
HIRLEY CHISHOLM CHILD CARE CENTER SITE 4 SOMERS
33 Somers Street
Brooklyn NY 11233 Map
Phone: (718) 498-6200
This lot is part of the Saratoga Square urban renewal area plan and is designated as Open Space.
According to Zack Schulman, who used to work extensively with Green Guerillas and helped facilitate the creation of the Phoenix Community Garden, this lot was part of a "Lots For Tots" program under the Council on the Environment of NYC (CENYC - now known as GrowNYC). This was in partnership with the daycare next door. However, this lot has been in some state of abandonment for several years.
It has beautiful mature trees, and simply needs a path, some benches, and a nicer iron fence to be a great park. Perhaps it could return to being a children's play space as well.
We put a sign on this lovely tree-filled lot today. It's a ready-made park, just about. Across the street from Phoenix Community Garden.
We sent a Freedom of Information Law request to the State Department of General Services, asking for their records about this property. Their response was that they have NO RECORDS of this property. The agency to call next is the NYC Department of Citywide Administrative Services:
contact Johnnie Smith, Bureau of Property Management/Leasing