New York Daily Photo Analytics

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Handle With Care

Don't give something important to citizens if you ever plan to take it away - people do not respond well to "temporary." A good example is the rent stabilization and rent control laws of New York City - highly contentious legislation between landlords and tenants, slowly and painfully being phased out. Regardless of very specific historical reasons for such laws and irrespective of whether they are any longer fair or reasonable, the past is now irrelevant to those who are reaping the benefits.

In 1999, to quell public uproar and facing three lawsuits, Mayor Rudolph Giuliani negotiated to sell 63 gardens to the Trust for Public Land, a national private conservation group. Decades ago, when the city was plagued with urban decay and in severe financial condition, the city permitted community groups to transform vacant lots into gardens as part of an open-ended agreement. The Giuliani administration ended that agreement by attempting to auction the plots of land to developers, but he ultimately sold the plots to the Trust for Public Land for $3 million.

The garden in today's photo is the Parque de Tranquilidad, located at 314-318 East 4th Street between Avenues C & D in the East Village on the site of a former synagogue. The garden is located directly across the street from the much larger El Jardin del Paraiso.

This verdant oasis is carefully and beautifully manicured - it is one of the most meticulously maintained public gardens I have seen. It is a densely planted haven with winding stone pathways, wood fencing, flower gardens, and birdhouses.

This minipark is arguably the best example of the design work of the late urban garden pioneer Liz Christy, of the Council on the Environment of New York City. Christy is widely known for starting the first New York City community garden in 1973 at Bowery and Houston streets, now named in her honor. TPL expects to convey the entire garden to the Manhattan Land Trust in 2009.

Not everything can or should be reduced to a business proposition. In a city with so much concrete, park land really provides important respite from the urban environment. To some, seeing prime real estate like this being used as a small park or community garden may appear to be a colossal waste of resources or a lost investment opportunity. But consider that any new housing built here would accommodate very few tenants at market prices. In aggregate, even if all of these gardens were converted to residential properties, they would only house a tiny number of people and make relatively no impact on the housing crisis, which involves those seeking lower cost housing and not the affluent.

Although a human being has basic needs for survival, the human spirit needs care too...

Related Posts: Guerillas in our Midst, Shangri-La, Devil's Playground, La Plaza Cultural Garden, Grapes, Stay Lean Stay Hungry, Urban Oasis, Alberts Garden, West Side Community Garden, Bird Country, Hua Mei Bird Garden


moe lauher said...

Thanks for the information - missing the photo.

Brian Dubé said...

moe - thanks. photo was there when I posted. must have been deleted accidentally.

Beth in NYC said...

Too true, Brian! Very nice post and images!

An Honest Man said...

Hear, hear! Our council seems hellbent on selling anything that it isn't legally debarred from doing (and probably some that it is!).