Thursday, November 10, 2005

Preservation of Liz Christy

Preservation of Liz Christy

As a resident of the Bowery near the Liz Christy Garden, I and my family have enjoyed its beauty for many years of our life in this neighborhood (all thirty of them!). We were greatly dismayed when we first heard of the Avalon Bay construction project on the corner. We knew it would bring unforeseen changes that were not going to be thought about sharply enough to take into account the whole fabric of this community.

Sure enough we find that aspects of the Avalon Bay plan will involve dismantling signature pieces of the Garden (like the oldest trees, the turtle pond, etc.). I’ve already noticed that the new building blocks the sun in the afternoon which will change what can grow there. These may seem like small things, but life is made up of small decisions that affect the future ever after.

I get the feeling that this developer has no respect or notion of what this garden represents to the wider community (world- wide in fact). As example: I remember after 9/11 watching parades of dazed and dust covered people walking up the Bowery. As they passed the garden they paused to catch a glimpse of what I assumed to be something tangible to hold onto to counter the horror they had just escaped. People wept.

Compare that history with a developer who wants a picture window into the garden for high end restaurant goers as an “amenity”. No matter that that would completely destroy it as a place of refuge for everyone else.

We are facing rapid and unthought through building in this neighborhood. It is increasingly clear to those of us who have lived and worked here for decades that no one is at the helm of community planning. It has never been more evident that the thinking of this developer and others is guided only by greed.

Preservation of Liz Christy

Many of us vigorously support Parks in carrying out its mandate to protect and preserve Parks land from encroachment by the short sighted aims of for-profit builders.
Not unlike the events on Fifth Avenue, where a group of inwardly focused co-op owners underestimated the value of a hawk to an entire city (and beyond!), the developer of Avalon Christy Place will face enormous grassroots opposition if it attempts to so disrespect the work of long time community residents.

Now more than ever New Yorkers need the reminder that life is still good, hopeful, vibrant with creatures and beauty AND that all of that matters to the people who are charged with the protection of such things. A hawk, a turtle pond, a space of quiet, and a tree that existed before you were born. These are the “little” and correctly humbling antidotes to a city increasingly filled with the confused and the greedy who can forget that they too are temporary residents on an island that had a history before us and (hopefully) a real future ahead of us.

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