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Crown Heights Community Garden at Risk for Demolition to Make Way for Condos

The property's new owners TYC Realty allegedly erected a fence late last month without informing volunteers.

A volunteer tends to plants at the Roger That Garden Project in Crown Heights, which is slated for demolition to make room for condominiums. Photo by chrismcnally via Flickr.com
A volunteer tends to plants at the Roger That Garden Project in Crown Heights, which is slated for demolition to make room for condominiums. Photo by chrismcnally via Flickr.com
The Roger That Garden Project, a volunteer-operated community garden on Rogers Ave. and Park Pl. in Crown Heights, became a welcomed staple in the community when volunteers took it upon themselves to build up the garden after the boarded-up hardware store previously occupying the space had been torn down in 2006.

Professor Richard Green and the Crown Heights Youth Collective petitioned local government officials and later established the garden and its colorful mural when the space became an empty lot.

Now, Roger That is at risk of being torn down again -- this time, for condo space.

During the beginning stages of its founding, Roger That garden volunteers began searching for the original owner of the land and came up short.

In December 2013, volunteers were informed that the deed had been transferred to new owners TYC Realty. The group told Roger That in January that the property would be cleared, which spurred the current fight to save the garden.

“We firmly believe that this property should remain a community garden in perpetuity,” said Roger That spokeswoman Emily Dinan. “These thousands of plants and vibrant mural are a testament to the resilience of the community in response to decades of neglect on the part of property owners and those in systems of power.”

According to a release by the garden, TYC Realty sent contractors to the space June 26 to erect a fence without first informing volunteers. Roger That has now partnered with Brooklyn Queens Land Trust to raise money to buy the deed from the realty company.

So far, the groups have collectively raised $15,000 through a benefit party the groups jointly hosted. There is also a petition to keep the garden alive.

Roger That volunteers said that they have petitioned government officials to no avail and seek the community's involvement in preserving the property for as long as possible.

“We ask for public endorsement for the affordable sale of the property to the Brooklyn Queens Land Trust and assistance in procuring the land,” Dinan said. “If we cannot save Roger That as a whole, we would like to slow their work permits, complete the growing season, and have until October 2014 to find new homes for our plants and volunteers.”

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