Narrows Botanical Gardens Controversy

Ridge gardeners to city: Wall us off!

The Brooklyn Paper
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Bay Ridge gardeners tending the Narrows Botanical Gardens in Shore Road Park are so sick of the sound of cars zipping along the nearby Belt Parkway that they’re willing to have their beloved greenspace walled off — a move some say will kill the park’s views of the harbor.

Green-thumbed Ridgites are pushing the city to build a seven-foot sound wall between their garden and the Belt Parkway to muffle the deafening roar of traffic. The wall will also protect the greenspace from drive-by petunia pluckers, gardeners say.

“People pull up to the side on the Belt Parkway and they reach over and pull our plants up,” said Greg Ahl, a member of both the garden’s Board of Trustees and Community Board 10. Ahl wants the city’s Department of Transportation to build the wall as it refurbishes a pedestrian bridge near 69th Street. “And after you’ve been working 50 feet from the highway for a few hours, the noise gets pretty daunting.”

Plant thieves have cost gardeners thousands of dollars as they routinely replace ripped out flowers, Ahl explained.

Narrows Botanical Gardens co-founder Jimmy Johnson, who landscaped the patch of shrubs, flowers, and rare plants, said the noise coming from the Belt Parkway is driving gardeners batty. The constant drone also ruins the garden’s summer cinema series, he said.

“Part of a garden should be the quietness,” said Johnson. “It’s why having a garden along the highway is difficult.”

The city hasn’t responded to Ahl’s request to build a sound wall between 69th Street to McKay Place, but longtime park-goers are already shouting down the proposal.

“The wall will absolutely destroy the view there,” said CB10 Board member Allen Bortnick.

Tina Tsapovski, who lives on Shore Road, agreed.

“The garden could be anywhere else in Brooklyn, the selling point here is the water,” Tsapovski said.

Johnson admitted that the wall will obscure the view of the harbor, but said gardeners will beautify the barrier by planting climbing vines along the wall to keep it from becoming an eyesore.

“Only along the closest walkway will you not be able to see the water,” Johnson said. “And the places you can see the water there are just gaps where I’m going to plant shrubs in the near future.”

Many park-goers said they wouldn’t want a wall blocking their view, but at least one person saw the value of a sound barrier abutting Shore Road Park.

“It is pretty loud here, and it’s not like we have much of a view here anyway, so it couldn’t hurt,” said resident Kathy Sippel. “It’s pretty bad that people can just steal plants from the garden.”

Yet another nearby resident thought a sound wall would be a complete waste of taxpayer dollars.

“There’s better things to spend money on,” said Maura Loving. “The sound is the sound. It’s city living.”

Reach reporter Will Bredderman at (718) 260–4507 or e-mail him at Follow him on Twitter at
Updated 5:34 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Or from Yellow Hook says:
How about the sound of the waves?


Build the wall, and then whine when it gets covered with graffiti.

But take a class in acoustics first.
July 9, 2012, 6:56 am
Jay from Bay Ridge says:
a new wall will bring unexpected new problems..
July 9, 2012, 8:49 am
Tru from Bklyn says:
Is there anything Allen Bortnick approves of? Anything? Other than parking in front of his house, I mean.
July 9, 2012, 8:59 am
John from Bay Ridge says:
This is the most ridiculous idea and is a true testament to the incompetence of those proposing it.
1-If you want to stop people from stilling plants then fix the fence since building a wall will:
a-Create a shadow on the garden-BIO101 plants need sun.
b-Block the view which is what is unique about this garden.
c-Block what noise, honestly we live in the city and if you want a place to nap then yes build a wall but you will have to build it higher than 7 feet to block the horn of the passing ships.
If you want to hear a noisy park then go to DUMBO between the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridge.
What about the view inland from the bike and walkway along the water? I will bet anything than in a few weeks that will turn into a nice concrete wall covered with graffiti.

In my opinion if there is no true news to report from an area then leave it at that but please don't promote this sort of stupidity.
July 9, 2012, 12:06 pm
Dea from Missouri says:
“Part of a garden should be the quietness,” said Johnson. “It’s why having a garden along the highway is difficult.”

What did the gardener think would happen when he built a garden in the middle of New York City, lol?

He fails to plan, but expects the city to just build him a wall? Yeah, that will happen.

Maybe they should have a few plant sales and raise the money they need...
July 9, 2012, 12:18 pm
Jay from Bay Ridge says:
maybe the city should place that part of highway underground and expand the garden to the shore.. that the noise complain will stop.
July 10, 2012, 9:01 am
Karen from bay ridge says:
Are they serious?????? Yuppies. Go build a garden on your roof. Dopes
July 10, 2012, 12:02 pm
Ted from Gowanus says:
Looking at those comments, I can see why no one really wants to live in Bay Ridge. Nice folks, I must say!
July 10, 2012, 12:30 pm
fed up from Bay Ridge says:
What noise from the Belt? I can barely hear any road noise when I'm in either Shore Rd Park or Owls Head Pk.

Any minimal noise coming from the Belt is nothing compared to the nonstop car honking and motorcyle blasting that I have on my residential side street.
July 11, 2012, 2:39 pm
Kappy from Bay Ridge says:
And kill those million-dollar views?
Are you freakin' nuts?
And most of the people going through there or sunbathing on the lawn are zoning out the traffic noise with their Iphone earplugs anyway.
July 14, 2012, 12:03 am
Ally from Bay Ridge says:
Jimmy Johnson is certifiable insane. He must have friends at the Brooklyn Paper who promote his ——...biulding a wall, is he serious
July 16, 2012, 5:31 pm
Reggie from Bliss Park says:
This has to be one of the most ridiculous things I have ever heard....the only place a wall belongs is around Johnson
July 16, 2012, 5:42 pm
Reggie from Bliss Park says:
This is absurd, I agree that such a costly construction would be wasteful, In my opinion, the only place a wall belongs is around Jim Johnson.
July 16, 2012, 5:43 pm
Reggie from Bliss Park says:
The only place a wall should be biult is around Jimmy Johnson.
July 16, 2012, 5:45 pm
Dahlia from Bliss Park says:
The only place a wall should be biult is around Jimmy Johnson.l
July 16, 2012, 5:46 pm
Red from Bliss Park says:
Eclipse the view of the river- What river might that be? It is NY Bay , not a river

The only place a wall should be biult is around Jimmy Johnson.
July 16, 2012, 5:49 pm
Dee from 3rd Ave says:

I hear that Johnson runs a private business out of that garden for many years now....Pretty sweet deal , no rent, no taxes , no water sewer bills, not too bad.

Hey if I can get all that, why not a wall to protect my inventory...and my private gated patio area
All on City Land, under the giuse of benevolence...
July 16, 2012, 6:06 pm
Amedeo from Bay Ridge says:
The malicious gossip that Mr. Johnson "runs a private business" in Narrows Botanical Garden is unfortunate. Unfortunate because it says a great deal about people's inability to understand that others perform altruistic acts without the motivation of personal gain. Perhaps Mr. Johnson's volunteerism solicits such a cynical response because his form of community service is grand, intense and extreme. From my vantage point as a neighbor with a clear view of the garden, I have for 15 years witnessed his devotion to it. I am still undecided about the proposed fence and I understand why others might be opposed to it, but to call into question the motivations of someone who voluntarily beautifies a community is truly unfortunate. Being at that wise point in my life where experience stretches further behind me than what lies ahead, I have learned many lessons, one of which is that suspicious natures have never been able to diminish the life affirming power of altruism, and that is fortunate.
July 17, 2012, 6:31 am
Nils from Bay Ridge says:
Amedeo save your 5 dollar words for your therapist, thats no gossip its common knowledge.....
July 17, 2012, 12:39 pm
Bill from Shore Rd says:
Good news for Bay ridge and Shore Rd!!! The DOT has REJECTED the hilarious and shortsighted proposal by the Narrows Botanical gatekeepers and contemptable cronies on Comm Bd 10, your spite wall will not rise and your insane vision of a walled in weedgarden on SHORE RD will not come to pass
July 20, 2012, 1:20 pm
Fahid from Shore Road says:
Sounds like gardeners are playing politicians and community loses...
July 25, 2012, 5:29 pm

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