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Neighbor ruins Prospect Heights garden • Brooklyn Paper

Neighbor ruins Prospect Heights garden

Community members, (from left) Matthew Smith, Eliza Loring, Patti Hagan, Missy LoPorto, 1-year-old Ada Rose LoPorto, and 3-year-old Levi Glazer are outraged that someone has destroyed their beloved community garden by dumping dirt and rocks on it.
Photo by Cassi Alexandra

This is one time when a good fence makes a bad neighbor.

A reckless building owner in Prospect Heights destroyed an adjoining community garden on Vanderbilt Avenue by dumping a giant mound of dirt and rocks on top of vegetables and plants to build a wall between his land and the greenspace.

“It’s just disgusting,” said Patti Hagan, who manages the Prospect Heights Community Garden. “It’s trespassing, illegal dumping and no way to treat a neighbor.”

Hagan said she confronted the dirt-flinger — whom she also photographed drinking beer in the garden — but instead of apologizing, he told her, “Get the f—k out of here,” she claims.

She called the cops, who declined to take action.

The fence-building neighbor in question — Frankie John, who owns the building at 586 Vanderbilt Ave. — admitted to tossing dirt on the garden that occupies his backyard and the backyard of several of his neighbors, but said he didn’t realize there were flowers and veggies there.

“I cleaned it up — what else can I do?” he said, and then denied that he had been drinking or hurling obscenities. “She’s the one getting all rude and nasty.”

It’s odd that the pretty public garden, which is gated-off near St. Marks Avenue, would host such a fiery dispute: The quiet green nook has long offered neighbors peaceful island of refuge amid a sea of concrete.

The land, owned by the Trust for Public Land, was once a rat-infested dump that neighbors rejuvenated in the 1970s. Last month, it even won second place in the “Best Community Garden Streetscape” category of the “Greenest Block in Brooklyn” contest.

That’s why green-thumbed residents — who spent hours toiling over landscaping, nurturing plants and hauling bricks to build a pathway — say the huge dirt mountain is as much an affront to the hood as it is a straight-up assault on beauty.

“It’s unbelievable,” said Matthew Noah Smith, a college professor who gardens there. “It’s a really special place — and one of those things that makes Brooklyn great.”

Smith, who has since consulted a lawyer, said that cops should take the conflict, which he called a case of criminal mischief, more seriously. Officials at the 77th Precinct did not return calls by press time.

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