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Vacants go verdant: Empty Bushwick lots will become parks

for The Brooklyn Paper
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Someone’s putting the bush back in Bushwick.

The neighborhood named by Dutch settlers for its plentiful woods is better known today for noisy elevated train lines and burgeoning bar scene, but residents hope the neighborhood will once again live up to its name when a planned park transforms a local eyesore into an urban oasis.

The city will convert a swath of blighted properties at the busy intersection of Bushwick Avenue and Beaver Street into a green space as soon the Department of Housing Preservation and Development, which owns the vacant lots and three connected, graffiti-coated garages, razes the buildings and clears trash from the site.

The Parks Department says it won’t share its vision for the space until the demolition work is complete, but neighbors and activists already have ideas of their own.

“I’d just love to see people growing food there,” said Keri Kroboth, a Ridgewood resident and volunteer with the newly-formed community garden group Evergreen Lots.

Kroboth said she’s talked to Parks officials about the idea of including vegetable plots in the park plan, but has heard no promises yet.

The abandoned lots housed a welding shop and a used car dealership until the owners locked up for good after losing a condemnation fight with City Hall in 2007.

News of the planned park came as a welcome surprise to other locals who have watched graffiti and litter accumulate behind the roll-gates throughout the years.

“We need any kind of park we can get, so long as it keeps people out of trouble,” said Jason Velasquez, a bouncer who lives in the nearby Rheingold Gardens complex. “For a lot of these kids, there’s nowhere to go.”

Bushwick’s green space has grown nearly seven-fold since 1999, when it had the second worst children per acre of parkland ratio of any neighborhood in the city. But the last decade has also seen an increase in population density as developers have scrambled to cash in on Bushwick’s latte and loft-living allure.

The park-to-be lies in the middle of a particularly congested drag, just up the hill from the high-rise Bushwick Houses and in the shadows of two mixed-income developments, with a proposed 1,000-unit project on the site of the old Rheingold brewery threatening to further crank up crowding.

The new park is exactly the relief the community needs, according to neighbor Nancy Garcia.

“Just some plants and trees would be nice,” said Garcia. “A place to sit down.”

Reach Nathan Tempey at nathantempey@gmail.com. Follow him at www.twitter.com/nathantempey.
Updated 10:10 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

o3 from bk says:
best test the soil for contaminants first.
April 15, 2013, 7:03 am
diehipster from Left Hooking Logans says:
Im not against this turning into an actual park/playground aimed at children as a place to play and a place for elderly to sit outside.

What I'm against is this being a project by hipsters - for hipsters. A place to friggin farm rainbow kale and heirloom squash. A place to have drum circles and discuss digital progressive 70's soul music. A place to house filthy chickens. A place to eventually have "shows" where the PBR and American Spirit crowd show up to destroy the place. A place for Megan and Hayden to sit with there awesome ka-fee and say 'like yah' all day during business hours. A place for the next played out flea market to open selling Mast Bros. chocolate scented paper clip necklaces and organic dog food. A place for Zacheriah and friends to play kickball.

Basically what I'm saying is a place for funemployed $2500 a month rent paying transients to hang out it.
April 15, 2013, 7:36 am
ty from pps says:
Oh, shut up already diehipster. You're schtick is so tired.

When you get the city to convert a vacant lot into a park, then you have the right to criticize and whine about *who* is making this happen... "I like parks, but not if 'hipsters' have anything to do with it" is a pretty dumb statement. If you don't recognize that, you're more of a buffoon than I thought (and you were already pretty highly rated on the buffoon scale).
April 15, 2013, 8:58 am
JAZ from Hunting Redbeards says:
Sounds like a great place for the Buddy Holly glasses wearing pseudo-creatives, deathly pale granny dress wearing, cupcake tattooed Zooeys, and assorted bearded matchsticks dressed up as depression-era paperboys to all stand around and smugly tell each other how 'Brooklyn' they are.

Caleb, Molly and Harrison: redefining the urban experience in Nieuw Bozwick - Like Yah!!!
April 15, 2013, 9:01 am
ty from pps says:
Yep, bringing parks to areas that have no open/green spaces... yep, that's "redefining the urban experience"

Most people would consider this a positive civic engagement, but now I know that's just crazy talk. It would be better for Brooklyn if these lots just remained as is.
April 15, 2013, 9:05 am
cee from bushwick says:
are you guys seriously defending a vacant lot? they can have artisinal flowering pickling classes there for all i care, get over it guys. then again it's not like any of you ever actually contribute to anything beyond complaining.
April 15, 2013, 9:22 am
Keri Kroboth from Ridgewood says:
I would like to add that one of the people interested in starting a garden at this site works at the AHRC nearby and would like to make it an outlet for the residents there. He states: "The space would provide an extremely easily accessible venue for these individuals and provide them a sense of accomplishment, occupation, involvement, and self and community awareness." The intention is not to just have a hang out space for certain people.

Growing food can be a powerful means of community building. I understand the concern that the space not feel exclusive to any one group. Gentrification is a real issue and we need more platforms for exchange and participation that is open to everyone in the neighborhood.

I was born and raised here and my family has a long history in the Bushwick/Ridgewood area so I do not consider myself a gentrifying hipster. But the key is to not lump populations together. Everyone has a complicated story of why and how they became apart of the communities they are in. Assumptions are what get us all in trouble, and the hope is that if we can have more outlets for community interaction then we can all make a whole lot less assumptions of each other.

One thing is for sure, we need less empty criticism and more positive action.
April 15, 2013, 9:59 am
manposeur from brokeland says:
Better to have parks and gardens for all to use. Much better than a vacant lot or worse a park utilized by thug rats from projects.
More urban lumber jacks!
April 15, 2013, 10:10 am
"Interloper" from Kent Ave says:
Can we bulldoze diehipster's building while we're at it?
April 15, 2013, 10:37 am
supabkln from Bushwick says:
I am definitely not a hipster having been born and raised in the area and now I live on this block. I can't wait for this park to be completed. I'm so tired of seeing that depressing ugly empty lot when I pass by there.
April 15, 2013, 11:33 am
Baz from N/A says:
Why not make a playground and a basketball court on one side, and an urban garden on another? Is there enough space for both?
April 15, 2013, 12:51 pm
Or from Yellow Hook says:
You miss the point - it's so they can have a park and not have to deal with"ethnic" people like they have to in Prospect Park.

It's ok to have one or two of them around for flavor - but too many, and . . .

This way they can celebrate diversity - from afar.

Ya gotta have parksparksparks, for artartart.
April 15, 2013, 2:05 pm
Scott from Park Slope says:
It's always great to hear when brownfields and vacant lots are converted to parks and green space. Community gardens, especially in areas without farmers markets or other easy access to vegetables, are a great way to supplement your diet with healthy greens. Knowing what it takes to grow your own food is good for the soul, and it's something everyone should know how to do. (Same with animal husbandry, too, though that's more problematic in an urban environment.)
April 16, 2013, 10:34 am
TFL from Queens says:
Jaz and diehipster---you are absolutely correct in your assessments! And the "deathly pal" granny dressers and"assorted bearded matchsticks" is spot on!! Keep up the truth talking!! Keep New York New York.
April 17, 2013, 4:34 pm
Brooklynite from Queens says:
Diehipster, Jaz and Or You guys are exactly right I mean look at Megan Calib and Bradly in the picture. Its quite clear this park will be for the hipsters and not for the native ethnic population that sounds like they could use a park with a playground for kids and maybe some basketball and handball courts. And these self sentered fly-over ——s what a park just for them and not give two ——s about the REAL people of Bushwick. A park in their eyes is a garden and venue for their terrible music if you can call it music. And mark my words that place will be an even worse blight, full of PBR cans and American Spirits and just more unwanted look at me's flooding the streets.
April 18, 2013, 5:13 pm
Brooklynite from Queens says:
I can just see it now if the hipsters get the "Urban farm" they want its gonna look like an overgrown mess of vegetation and crappy huts made from "repurposed artsy finds"
April 18, 2013, 5:28 pm
Brooklynite from Queens says:
Oh its gonna be called the "North South West Bushwick Dirty Funemployement Gardens"
April 18, 2013, 5:32 pm
Brooklynite from Queens says:
Oh its gonna be called the "North South West Bushwick Dirty Funemployement Gardens"
April 18, 2013, 5:32 pm
Brooklynite from Queens says:
Oh its gonna be called the "North South West Bushwick Dirty Funemployement Gardens"
April 18, 2013, 5:32 pm
Brooklynite from Queens says:
Oh its gonna be called the "North South West Bushwick Dirty Funemployement Gardens"
April 18, 2013, 5:32 pm
"Interloper" from Kent Ave says:
Brooklynite and Or - Why do you assume that "hipsters" wouldn't welcome what you refer to as the "native ethnic population"? That's a very presumptuous and dumb statement.
April 19, 2013, 3:36 pm
Yeimi Korsberg from Bushwick says:
Good afternoon,

I am a Program Supervisor at AHRC Wendy M. Siegel Center which is located right next to the lots in question. We love the idea of these lots to be used as a community garden. Many of the individuals we serve and our staff would love to volunteer and commit to maintain and beautify these lots.
April 25, 2013, 3:36 pm
Cb from Bushwick says:
Thank goodness there going to do something with this lot I've been cleaning up that sidewalk around forever . Let the so called hipster take care of the park. The take more interest in taking care of things then the local ethnic residents. No one else in this community cares about what happens here. The people blast Spanish music out there windows oblivious to what needs to be done to better the environment
April 28, 2013, 8:32 am
Paulie from Sheepshead Bay says:
Cb from Bushwick: You shouldn't be living "there" because THEY'RE always going to be there, playing their Spanish, Latin, Caribbean, Soul, Riddim, Reggae, Native American, Classic Rock and assorted other genres of music.

Let the music play!!
May 15, 2013, 4:54 pm
Cb from Bushwick says:
Paulie dee from sheepshead now that the jamicians have taken over your neighborhood now you like there music you need to move to Long Island ouhps every white is moving back to Brooklyn bushwick Williamsburg bedstuy not sheepshead bay the roti capital of Brooklyn .
July 2, 2013, 1:28 pm

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