On Wednesday Paula and I met with Deputy Borough President Diana Reyna and with Richard Bearak, Borough Hall’s Director of Land Use, to discuss the next steps for the garden. Also present was DW Gibson, whom you will remember as the author of the article in The Nation last November that featured our garden’s situation. He is now putting together a series of podcasts on gentrification in Brooklyn. There Goes the Neighborhood, in which we will also feature. I think I heard this morning that it will air on Tuesdays during Morning Edition, but you can subscribe by following the link.
DW was at the meeting to get an on-the record statement from Deputy Reyna, which she gave unhesitatingly and which impressed me with its warmth and fullness of support. As I’ve reported before, Borough Hall and Parks are strongly committed to our survival. The plan is for Parks to acquire the lot either by purchase or through an eminent domain condemnation. Let me underline that the purchase price, the full market value of the lot, will we expect be paid to the Kirton heirs, not HUD LLC. William Diliberto, the heir locator we hired, is now working with Robert Godosky, the court-appointed guardian. They are waiting to be certain before filing an affidavit with the court certifying the heirs.
Colleen Alderson, the director of Parklands (division of Parks that acquires land) will initiate a Uniform Land Use Review Process (ULURP) as soon as money has been placed in the Parks Dept. budget. So our next big push is to get that money.
Some of it will come from the Borough President’s FY2017 budget, as he promised. Deputy BP Reyna told DW on tape that that money has already been sealed.
Some of it will come from Albany, we hope. Since it now seems unlikely that the Hamilton/Richardson bills (which condemn the garden property by eminent domain) will make it though the legislature this year, Senator Hamilton’s Albany staff are working on getting an item into the state budget, an allocation to the city and specifically to Parks to help in the purchase of 237 Maple St.
The rest — a half million dollars — must come from the City Council budget, which means we have to make a strong appeal to Council Member Eugene to get an item in that budget on our behalf. The concerns he expressed at our last meeting had to do with following protocol, so Ms Alderson is working on a roadmap of the steps to be gone through, for his benefit. But nothing will move him far if he doesn’t hear from his constituents. Please take the time to contact his office and ask him to get a line in the budget for $500,000 to be allocated to the Parks Department for the acquisition of the Maple Street garden! We can also write letters and send emails, and the talking points are no different from what they’ve been. You can find them in the template letters posted below.
Any questions, please ask.