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Volunteers Guard Disputed Community Garden Lot on LES

[Protestors and volunteers at the Children's Magical Garden. Photo via DNAinfo.]

The battle for 157 Norfolk Street may be coming to a close, but activists and supporters of the Children's Magical Garden's claims to the vacant lot aren't giving up without a fight. On Thursday afternoon, neighborhood protestors launched an around-the-clock "garden watch," after learning that a city engineer had been seen on site, inspecting the property's gas and water lines. This comes after last month's failed lawsuit against the Horizon Group, which volunteers spearheaded as part of an attempt to halt development of a six-story building on the lot.
Since the early 1980s, volunteers at the Children's Magical Garden have utilized and laid claim to 157 Norfolk, since the lot's previous owner, Serge Hoyda, had left the vacant lot abandoned. Since then, they have cultivated the land into a thriving communal space for children and families to grow fruits and vegetables and take part in neighborhood events. Last May, Hoyda infuriated neighbors when he built a chainlink fence around his part of the land, effectively cutting the garden in half. He then sold the lot to 157 LLC (associated with developer Horizon Group) back in January.

Last week, the Department of Buildings lifted a month-long hold on development, which had been implemented to give the public an opportunity to comment on the plans. Now, according to DNAinfo, the DOB is reviewing Horizon's permits, paving the way for construction to begin.

Volunteers have vowed to keep watch until they win a new hold on construction.
· "Activists Start 24-Hour Watch on Disputed Community Garden Lot" [DNAinfo]
· All 157 Norfolk Street coverage [Curbed]