Friday, August 31, 2007

Gowanus Nursery Appeals for Help Fighting Likely Eviction

We noted during a Community Board 6 meeting we attended in late spring that one of the Red Hook Garden District's recent arrivals, the Gowanus Nursery, was being threatened by new residential development. The nursery had been on Third Street and moved this year to Summit Street in Red Hook. Here's the email from the Nursery's owner that we just got:
On Wednesday August 22, a small group of business owners, employees and clients attended a city planning meeting that was to decide the fate of a few parcels of land located on Summit and Carroll streets.

The likely outcome is Gowanus Nursery will be forced to move, once again.

Remarkably this change is a thinly disguised 'spot zoning' to allow for a residential development in a grandfathered commercial zone. This action, in the words of community Board 6, has been the most aggressive use of ULURP (re-zoning) procedures that the current board has ever seen, forcing out active and flourishing businesses to make way for residential development.

Borough President Marty Markowitz's recommendations suggested that the nursery occupied lot provided property owners the opportunity to lease under-developed land with minimal investment (part true since the only investment came in the form of our own labor and financial funding.) There seems something fundamentally wrong with labeling well-used open 'green' space as 'under-developed.' On a personal note, I am frustrated not only by the futility of the work we have already logged here, but also by the casual way that zoning change is happening in 'our' neighborhood.

Last year, you my customers and colleagues came to offer your services during the first move. Now I ask for your help to help save this 'green oasis' from perishing in the changes affecting all of Brooklyn.

One of the questions asked by the city planning commissioners was "We have heard a lot of testimony about how this is the 'best' nursery, could you please give some definite examples to support this statement?" Well we hope that our garden making has been successful; stimulating ideas and offering advice, suggesting different ways of seeing plants and how they effect our environment directly and indirectly. Of course something akin to a mission remains: providing gardeners experience-based knowledge and the broadest selection of perennial plants for Brooklyn gardens.

We hope that you can take the time to email the following parties to let them know in a few words what makes us an important part of the neighborhood and the whole Brooklyn experience.

Council representative - Bill de Blasio; City Council Speaker - Christine Quinn; Land Use Committee Chairperson - Melinda R. Katz; Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

deblasio@council.nyc.ny.us,
quinn@council.nyc.ny.us,
katz@council.nyc.ny.us,,
http://www.nyc.gov/html/mail/html/mayor.html

The following are some statements to paste into your appeal:It's impossible to run a nursery without land. Businesses such as these provide necessary services to the community, and are the reason we choose Brooklyn.

Please help Gowanus Nursery to remain a Brooklyn institution.

We support green business in Brooklyn.
The building that would replace the Gowanus Nursery, which is at 45 Summit Street, would be nearly a dozen stories tall.

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8 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sources at Marty Markowitz's office suggest they have seen the building plans, which are four stories tall and would include affordable housing for residents. I think we should try to find some funding to help this nursery buy or long-lease a site nearby, and help fund her relocation as well.

7:38 PM  
Anonymous Andamom said...

I just put you/this blog on my list for BlogDay 2007. As you know, I greatly appreciate the comprehensive information you write about the community in which I live... Thanks!

8:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Where are all the small Brooklyn businesses to go when forced out of Brooklyn?

Every small business should be protected by the communities in which they grow and especially by their leaders.

I have witnessed countless times where people are blow away by the beauty & selection of the Gowanus Nursery. I'm sure the same effect will not be felt by some 4 story "affortable housing" unit.

12:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is from a letter sent to all the officials mentioned in this appeal.

Dear Ms. Quinn,

I am writing this note to appeal to you, as our City Council Speaker, to help keep the Gowanus Nursery in its current location. It is an excellent nursery serving many people in Red Hook, Carroll Gardens, Park Slope, throughout Brooklyn and much of the city. There is no other nursery like this in all of Brooklyn; it has unusual plants and, more importantly, a very knowledgable staff who offer unlimited advice. This is a vital business that should be allowed to remain where it is. It is frequently recommended by staffers at the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens as a place to go to search for their plants.

This is a situation where this business is vital to the neighborhood, more vital than a developer who will build housing for a select few. This is not "under-developed" land but instead is a green space that is providing a great service to the local community.

Please help the Gowanus Nursery remain as a Brooklyn institution.

1:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is the from the letter sent to all the government officials regarding the Gowanus Nursery:

Dear Ms. Quinn,

I am writing this note to appeal to you, as our City Council Speaker, to help keep the Gowanus Nursery in its current location. It is an excellent nursery serving many people in Red Hook, Carroll Gardens, Park Slope, throughout Brooklyn and much of the city. There is no other nursery like this in all of Brooklyn; it has unusual plants and, more importantly, a very knowledgable staff who offer unlimited advice. This is a vital business that should be allowed to remain where it is. It is frequently recommended by staffers at the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens as a place to go to search for their plants.

This is a situation where this business is vital to the neighborhood, more vital than a developer who will build housing for a select few. This is not "under-developed" land but instead is a green space that is providing a great service to the local community.

Please help the Gowanus Nursery remain as a Brooklyn institution.

1:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

as for affordable housing and 4 story elevation...well the proof is in the pudding....take a look at the owner/developer track record: metro news: so many ways to beat the system, and few places have witnessed it more often than park slope by Brian Kates.

9:16 PM  
Anonymous Woofs 'n Whiskers said...

I keep asking myself why anyone should care about three small, family run businesses disappearing. The answer I've come up with is because Woofs 'n Whiskers and Gowanus Nursery have cared about you, the community. We have served the community, we live in the community and we hire from the community. Gowanus Nursery is a magical place. It is a place to learn and grow. It is one of the reasons I love this neighborhood. The thought of it being replaced by another ugly, out-of-place apartment building is nauseating. Do we really want to live in "Mini Manhattan?" Summit Street is worth saving. I can only hope that others feel the same way. Pushing out businesses that serve the people to make room for more people seems moronic to me.

5:42 PM  
Anonymous people are talking... said...

On reading this blog I can't help thinking of a moment last week while standing in Gowanus Nursery overhearing a passerby's conversation; "I love living on this block with it's 'doggie daycare', nursery and carpenters." Woofs n Whiskers, Gowanus Nursery and Composition Studios are what they were talking about and to hear of their possible demise is disheartening. The small business' are what makes a place like Brooklyn Brooklyn.

I guess I am not sure what 'under-used land' means as I have driven through areas of all the boroughs - Brooklyn included - that seem a lot less used than this one. Does 20-30 unilts of residential space qualify as better used space when it is at the expense of services serving hundreds of people?

6:25 AM  

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