Elizabeth Street Garden Advocates Form Non-Profit Corporation to Fight for its Existence [Updated]

Posted on: April 3rd, 2017 at 5:04 am by

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Friends of the Elizabeth Street Garden, the grassroots organization founded three years ago to preserve the namesake green space, now has some competition with the newly formed non-profit corporation called Elizabeth Street Garden, Inc.

Its goals are identical. Namely, to preserve the Elizabeth Street Garden as a public, open green space, Community Garden, and city park, in the face of the city’s efforts to build affordable housing onsite. Accessibility to the public will remain the same under the tutelage of the new caretaker, and the free public programming unchanged.

UPDATE: The new corporation is a splinter group, and condemned by Friends of Elizabeth Street Garden.

Yesterday, the board of directors of nonprofit Friends of Elizabeth Street Garden received an unexpected email from Elizabeth Street Gallery owner Allan Reiver telling the board that he was immediately withdrawing his permission for Friends to operate the Garden as we have for the last four years. Instead, he will work alongside a new in-house nonprofit organization, with his son, Joseph Reiver, on the board.

From the press release:

Although the mission of ESG remains the same as FESG, this new organization was formed as a result of significant philosophical differences with some members of the board of FESG with regard to saving the Elizabeth Street Garden from being destroyed by the City of New York and Councilmember Margaret Chin. By seeking to harness the support of the community, which has already been expressed through thousands of letters and four resolutions by Community Board 2, ESG will endeavor to take a more aggressive stance in combating the City’s RFP, ensuring that the Garden remain the jewel that it is today.

“I truly appreciate all the work FESG has done until now with the Garden, both with the programming and advocacy to save it,” said Renee Green a former board member of FESG and founding board member of ESG, “but the time has come to take a much more aggressive stance in fighting the City and Margaret Chin, and I know ESG will do that.”

“We must get more aggressive with city,” noted Aziz Dehkan, Executive Director of the New York City Community Garden Coalition “we won’t leave any stone unturned in saving this Garden, and everything is on the table, including legal action. It’s time to stop talking about saving the Garden, and time to start doing. All the talk has done is leave the Garden on the verge of being destroyed and we can’t let that happen.”

This new representation formed against the backdrop of Mayor de Blasio’s blase response to saving the garden. Even last week, hizzoner was quoted as basically torpedoing plans to save the garden. The Villager reported that “[de Blasio] simply disagrees that the entire beloved Little Italy garden should be saved by shifting an affordable housing project planned there to another site.”

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