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Loved Lower East Side Garden May Not Be Doomed After All

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Despite impending doom development, belief is sprouting on the Lower East Side that Siempre Verde Community Garden stands a chance at surviving the wrecking ball. William Gottlieb Real Estate is intent on erecting a five-story building in its place, the gardeners and their community board supporters face one sturdy wall—the Housing Preservation and Development department. But if HPD agrees to transfer the three adjacent lots at 137 Stanton Street and 139 Attorney Street over to the Parks Department, the garden will actually live up to its name. And always exist. Community Board 3 discussed this plan Thursday night.

Though HPD tried to be diplomatic towards CB3 and the gardeners in October, the department hasn't thus far shown any signs it would support the garden. But on Thursday, a less oppositional city agency, GreenThumb, gave a thumbs up to a room full of Siempre supporters. (GreenThumn supports the city's community gardens.) "I don't see any challenges or obstacles in transferring the garden over to the Parks and Recreation Department," said Rasheed Hislop, GreenThumb's deputy director. Then, to avoid confusion, he said there's city process by which HPD could someday ask GreenThumb for an assessment on how active and park-like the space is. "From what I can tell," Hislop said, "it's a very active site. It's come a very long way in a very short time." Asked by the board how long the process could take, Hislop said it can get political, and could take anywhere from 48 hours to as many as 18 months.

"It's really not about when, it's about if," said board member Ayo Harrington. Still, she said, "With enough political pressure from the community it will occur." Ultimately, the parks committee voted to pass the board's second resolution requesting the garden be transferred to Parks. The full board approved a similar land-use committee resolution earlier this month. All this, plus tentative support from Councilwoman Margaret Chin amounts to considerable "momentum," the gardeners said after the vote, adding that Chin is usually "a builder," so her support in this case was significant.
· Four NYC Community Gardens Fighting for Their Lives [Curbed]
· LES Board Votes to Save Garden, Reject New Development [Curbed]
· Siempre Verde Garden coverage [Curbed]