Garden-variety victory

Bowing to demands made by a group of gardeners who used its grounds to sow the earth, Brooklyn College agreed to spare two-thirds of the Campus Road Community Garden one month after it had kicked the gardeners out and began building a parking lot on the site.

The agreement was reached in the wake of a lawsuit brought by the gardeners against Brooklyn College and the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York, filed two days after college administrators closed the garden and started digging it up.

“We feel very encouraged that the college has acknowledged how important the garden is,” said gardener Andy Snyder, one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit. “Our goal was to try to preserve as much of the garden as possible.”

That lawsuit led to a temporary restraining order against the college, prohibiting it from proceeding with its plans to raze the garden to make way for the parking and a repositioned athletic field.

In accepting the college’s proposal, the gardeners withdrew their lawsuit on June 25, agreeing not to take legal action on the matter against the college in the future.

Originally, the college had planned to level the garden completely. However, after objections from gardeners, students and faculty, the administration agreed to include a smaller garden to one side of the parking lot; over time, the size of that garden grew from 1,300 square feet to about 2,500 square feet, and now to 4,000 square feet. Before the college began leveling it, the garden, which had been located on the grounds for 13 years, was about 6,500 square feet.

Karen Gould, the college’s president, confirmed the agreement in a June 22 letter to the gardeners, noting, “The new garden will be an integral part of the College’s educational framework and will serve as one example of a broad range of academically-linked sustainability initiatives for our students and faculty.”

The college reexamined its plans, Gould said, and figured out a way “to reconfigure the 46-space parking area” to expand the garden to 4,000 square feet without sacrificing any parking spots. Half of the plots in the garden will be available to area residents, Gould said.

Gould stressed that the college “retains absolute discretion over all aspects of the new Brooklyn College Garden, including the authority to determine whether to continue its operation.” Nonetheless, she added, the college “does not expect to make any significant changes … prior to the end of the 2012 growing season.”

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