Elizabeth Street Garden

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I was walking on Elizabeth Street between Prince and Spring yesterday and had the chance to visit the Elizabeth Street Garden. There is an ongoing effort to make sure the garden gets preserved as open space.

Visit the Elizabeth Street Garden web site to learn more of the struggle to save the garden. It is 20,000 square feet of space and at threat for affordable housing development. Sentiment at the Community Board 2 Land Use hearing in November expressed how it is “a ‘lousy choice’ to have to choose between affordable housing and green, open space.”

When it becomes a debate between affordable housing and green space, as this Villager article on the Community Board 2 vote shows, it gets tricky. In this instance, the Community Board listened to the community who came out in force to save the garden (tho’ it’s interesting two prominent players on the Board who have placed private interests above those of the community on the Washington Square conservancy issue argued against preserving it).

Once an area has been set aside for open space, recognizing how much development of “luxury housing” was pushed during the Bloomberg years (with giveaways and tax breaks to those developers), there has to be a better way to proceed on issues like this – vs. tearing down this magnificent space and harming the nature – in addition to the trees, birds, maybe squirrels, a stop for butterflies and bees – that lives amidst it.

It’s like the trees at Washington Square Park – instead of chopping down dozens of trees to redesign the park, why not design around what exists and appreciate that life? Too many of the park’s forty to eighty year old trees were chopped down to satisfy one person’s ‘vision.’ The Parks Department could be truly visionary and preservationist: work with the nature that exists. That would be a truly ‘green’ way to function.

The Elizabeth Street Garden just became accessible to the public apparently last year – perhaps to galvanize community support – but it is quite stunning and also a little rough around the edges in its own way.

Photos: Cathryn

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