Vacant NYC Lots Host New Green Spaces
The NY Times highlights an effort by 596 Acres, a Brooklyn-based “public education project,” to galvanize community support in order to transform vacant city-owned land into gardens. Claiming that the city owns a collection of vacant land parcels totaling over 1,000 acres, the group, led by Paula Z. Segal, aims to inform community members of their ability to work with the city and non-profits to reshape their neighborhoods.
Using a city a database and working with researchers from the Center for the Study of Brooklyn, 596 Acres created an online map and mobile app with information about the parcels, including which agencies own them and their contact information. It is their hope that by making this information more widely available, more people will become involved in the effort because the resources are right in front of them.
There remains concern about the temporary status of the gardens. Some worry about the plots gaining legal recognition and the city losing opportunities to develop affordable housing. Others worry that once a garden is finally established it may be required to move immediately after. For this reason, and with grants from various fundraising organizations, 596 Acres has emphasized the mobility of the gardens and the ability to relocate them entirely if the city wants access to the land. The plants are planted in raised beds that sit atop forklift pallets.