April 29, 2010 / Brooklyn news / Greenpoint / Meadows of Shame

It’s Gate-gate! City removes McCarren garden fence — and conspiracies fly!

The Brooklyn Paper
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook

Get our stories in your inbox, free.

Like The Brooklyn Paper on Facebook.

A handful of gardeners in McCarren Park are stumped by the apparent efforts of the city to intimidate them.

On Saturday morning, a city worker began tearing down the fence surrounding the 15-year-old Red Gate Garden — though he stopped his handiwork when garden’s caretakers raised their gloved fists in protest.

Volunteer gardeners Walid Mokh and Gina Riscia, who have looked after the garden for the past 12 years, said they were “shocked and dismayed” at the early morning incident, and spent the rest of the day haphazardly hammering the fence back up.

“I had no idea about this was going to happen,” said Riscia. “This garden can’t survive without a fence. It’s a really rough corner.”

Mokh and Risica say that the Parks Department has been harassing them over the past few months with the goal of eventually forcing them out.

The latest incident was precipitated by a generous offer earlier in the week from a local Boy Scout troupe. The scouts wanted to donate flowering trees and perennials to the garden in celebration of its centennial anniversary but the gardeners told them that the large trees weren’t necessary.

The Parks department went forward with the unwanted planting despite the gardeners’ wishes, leaving the scouts caught in the middle of the arboreal argument. Calls to the Boy Scouts asking for comment about the incident were not returned.

Nearby business owners, such as Meredith Chesney of Mousey Brown Salon on Lorimer Street, are baffled by the incident and angry that the Parks Department has targeted an out-of-the-way community garden that hasn’t harmed anyone.

I want to know why the hell the Parks Department thinks it’s OK to rip down the fence without notice,” said Chesney. “That a few people have taken it upon themselves to sustain, cultivate, and protect a very small slice of a public park should be commended.”

Parks officials say the event was a misunderstanding and the intent was to add new plantings while increasing public access to the space.

“The fence was not removed, rather it was opened to provide greater access,” said Parks spokesman Phil Abramson, who promised that the agency would not alter or change the garden that residents cultivated.

Mokh calls that statement, “an absolute lie,” calling the move “round one” in a city effort to remove the fence permanently.

“Parks does not want us there,” he said.

Today’s news:
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook

Get our stories in your inbox, free.

Like The Brooklyn Paper on Facebook.

Reader Feedback

lindy from greenpoint says:
They have not been there "forever" and I am in that part of the park often and do not see that they are present at all. If you the permit expired, then open it up to the rest of us now. The park is not the same as it was even three years ago, there are wonderful nooks of gardens throughout. If you want your own private garden, buy a house that can provide you such a place.
May 3, 2010, 8:02 am
Hopper from Los Sures says:
Nice garden. Parks Department Property. Doesn't look like Walid has a leg to stand on. Buy a house.
May 4, 2010, 12:54 pm
d from 11222 says:
At night the city sleeps, the kids scurry to their bars and I wander aimlessly with my bolt cutters hoping to liberate taxpayer land.
May 9, 2010, 11:45 am

Enter your comment below

By submitting this comment, you agree to the following terms:

You agree that you, and not or its affiliates, are fully responsible for the content that you post. You agree not to post any abusive, obscene, vulgar, slanderous, hateful, threatening or sexually-oriented material or any material that may violate applicable law; doing so may lead to the removal of your post and to your being permanently banned from posting to the site. You grant to the royalty-free, irrevocable, perpetual and fully sublicensable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform and display such content in whole or in part world-wide and to incorporate it in other works in any form, media or technology now known or later developed.

First name
Last name
Your neighborhood
Email address
Daytime phone

Your letter must be signed and include all of the information requested above. (Only your name and neighborhood are published with the letter.) Letters should be as brief as possible; while they may discuss any topic of interest to our readers, priority will be given to letters that relate to stories covered by The Brooklyn Paper.

Letters will be edited at the sole discretion of the editor, may be published in whole or part in any media, and upon publication become the property of The Brooklyn Paper. The earlier in the week you send your letter, the better.

Don’t miss out!

Stay in touch with the stories people are talking about in your neighborhood:

Optional: Help us tailor our newsletters to you!