The New York Community Gardens Coalition sues city over Coney Island amphitheater’s eviction of Boardwalk Garden

Booted Boardwalk gardeners sue to block Markowitz amphitheater

The Brooklyn Paper
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These gardeners are sowing the seeds of discontent.

The New York Community Gardens Coalition is suing the city on behalf of Coney Island’s Boardwalk Garden, which was bulldozed last December to make way for ex-Borough President Marty Markowitz’s $53-million amphitheater project.

The Coalition’s legal team claims that the planned Seaside Park and Community Arts Center violates municipal requirements for sewer capacity — and so the city should therefore not have booted the People’s Playground planters from their 17-year-old garden.

“The city did not follow its own regulations,” said attorney Joel Kupferman of the New York Environmental Law and Justice Project, which is spearheading the suit. “You’re going to have thousands of people coming to a concert, and the sewers in Coney West cannot take that.”

Kupferman further alleged that iStar Financial, the company that will construct and operate the new hall as a permanent home for Markowitz’s summer concert series, did not do the proper studies when they designed the underground reservoirs that the company claims will combat flooding at the waterfront venue.

Attorneys for iStar say that the blueprints are perfectly in line with regulations.

“I’m not sure what they think their grounds are, but I know that everything that needed to be done was done for this project,” said Howard Weiss.

The Coney gardeners began tilling the soil at the W. 22nd Street spot in 1997. The city kicked the growers out in 2004 in order to convert the parcel into a parking lot for MCU Park, but the garden was never paved, and seed-sowers returned without much notice.

Hurricane Sandy soaked the spot and buried it in sand, but the gardeners dug their way out and replanted last spring — about the same time Markowitz announced his plan to place his long-dreamt-of amphitheater inside the landmarked Childs Building next door — and to convert the garden into seating.

Community Board 13 voted down Markowitz’s proposal last September, but the plan breezed through the City Planning Commission and then the Council.

The gardeners hoped to hold out and somehow keep their longtime location, but late last year iStar deployed an array of earthmovers early one morning to forcibly uproot the garden. The amphitheater plan calls for construction to begin this year, and for the venue to open in 2015.

The Coalition expressed hope that Markowitz’s successor, Eric Adams, would work with them to let the gardeners return to their vegetable patch.

“We’re asking our new elected official to right the wrong that has been done,” said Aresh Javadi, legislative coordinator for the Coalition.

Adams’s office declined to say if the new beep would aid the gardeners, but said he would be glad to meet with them.

Reach reporter Will Bredderman at or by calling (718) 260-4507. Follow him at
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Beverly says:
Wow these people are idiots - trying (pointlessly) to stop an excellent project for the neighborhood because they're bitter over their lost rat-garden.
March 6, 2014, 5:53 am
Michael from Bay Ridge says:
They were squaters on useful land, and they've already been officially kicked out for ten years.
I'm sorry to say that more people will get enjoyment out of the ampitheater, than from their illegal "garden".
No wrong has been done, and they just need to get over it. There are other lots in Coney Island, use them. No need to put all this effort into blocking something that is good for Coney.
March 6, 2014, 8:12 am
Mike from Williamsburg says:
Silly hipsters with their urban gardens. Go back to Wisconsin if you want a fallow field.
March 6, 2014, 8:44 am
nypd from ny says:
^^^Eats potato chips and soda for breakfast.^^^
March 6, 2014, 10:44 am
sal from coney island says:
This project was fast tracked without the proper oversight. Recchia helped out his friends in the last week of the Council session.
This is Recchia MO . I'm sure he will be getting alot of money & donations for his ill-advised Congressioanl race.
Even my Democratic friends in
SI vote Republican.
March 6, 2014, 3:45 pm
The Chooch from his grandmother's garden it Italy says:
Wow. These guys sound like real freakazoids, mook or hipster, it hardly matters out there. The story gives us no profile, no portrait, no sense of the types of people these gardeners are. Are they old Brooklyn kooks? Eccentrics? Are they a breed of bohemian mountain man? Are they young, old. Are they classical Gotham luddites? Trotskyites? Sometimes on those days we glimpse the long shadow of America's most famous playground. It comes with the territory. Goombahs. Goombah gardening. As in "The Goombah Gardeners Manual." It's an old Hindu word. So is Mook by the way. Adventures on the Frontiers of the Bohemian Empire. Akbar in Paumanok. Whatever. In other words, I can't tell a thing from this story.
March 6, 2014, 7:11 pm
Charles from PS says:
Hipsters are certainly better people than the people hereinabove who bash them constantly. Most hipsters I have met are tolerant and diverse. The truth is those who speak ill of hipsters wish they could hang with them, but due to a lack of personality or age, are left jealous and enraged. These gardeners are attempting to stop what they believe was an illegal taking of their/our garden outside the law. If you believe in American democracy and rule of law, you would at least support their efforts in the courts. Of course, those who are bashing these people do not believe in the idea of law, justice and the American way. Otherwise known as looooooooooosers. Yes, you are a loser. Sucks to be you, ah?
March 7, 2014, 2:25 pm

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