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Brooklyn College Garden Lawsuit

Brooklyn College Garden Lawsuit

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Published by City Room

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Categories:Types, Business/Law
Published by: City Room on May 26, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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10/20/2011

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SUPREME COURT OF THE STATEOF NEW YORK COUNTY OF KINGSIn the Matter of the Petition of  ANDREW C. SNYDER, ROY BEN-MOSHE, TOBY SANCHEZ,MURRAY LANTNER, CAMPUSROAD COMMUNITY GARDENPetitioners/Plaintiffs v.KAREN L. GOULD as President of Brooklyn College, STEVE LITTLE as Vice-President of Brooklyn College, JOANNA OLIVER as EnvironmentalManager for Dormitory Authority of theState of New York, DORMITORY  AUTHORITY OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, BROOKLYNCOLLEGERespondents/DefendantsIndex No.Hon. VERIFIED PETITION ANDCOMPLAINT FOR DECLARATORY  JUDGEMENT
 
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Petitioners/Plaintiffs (“Petitioners”), by the undersigned Pro se representation as an Article78 proceeding, for their verified petition and complaint for declaratory judgment allege asfollows:
I. Preliminary Statement
1. The Campus Road Community Garden was welcomed to its present location on theperimeter of the campus of Brooklyn College in March 1997. The College helped gradeand put paths on the original nucleus of the approximately 4500 square foot garden. Toby Sanchez, representing the Campus Road Gardeners, with the South Midwood Residents asa financial agent signed a revocable lease with the College in 1997.2. Following the release of the Dormitory of the State of New York’s negative declarationTuesday, May 18, 2010 the College evicted the Gardeners and has closed the garden (as of 9:30pm May 20, 2010) and hired professional landscapers to begin dismantling the garden.Gardeners have been told that very soon it will be bulldozed and completely flattened.3. The College has announced plans to create a new “Brooklyn College Garden” on 2500square feet, barring trees, shrubs, and bushes, utilizing raised bed planters. The rest of theformer garden area will be paved for a parking lot.4. Gardeners petition the court for immediate relief from this sudden and irreversibledestruction of a garden that took 13 years to develop.
5. The DASNY determination of a negative ruling included severalelements that were capricious, arbitrary, and illegal. Petitioners requestthat the dismantling and bulldozing of the garden be restrained through aTemporary Restraining Order (TRO) and a Preliminary Injunction and thatthe Court require the College to produce an Environmental ImpactStatement (EIS) that would accurately address the true environmentalimpact of this planned and imminent destruction of a precious communityresource, aesthetic public open space, and ecologically important land.
6. We support the Athletic Field's construction, in so far as that construction is not planned to interfere in any way with the current Campus Road Community Garden. Ourobjections are confined only to issues affecting the Campus Road Community Garden, andtherefore only the parking portion of the current Athletic Field Plan.
II. PartiesA. Petitioners
7. Andrew C. Snyder has been a community gardener at the Campus Road Community Garden since 2008. He strongly values the experience of working collaboratively withother gardeners to support the flora, fauna, and habitat in Brooklyn, and has plantednumerous butterfly host and pollinator-attractors in his garden plot. He is opposed to theCollege’s precipitous and calamitous actions because of the severe adverse impacts it will
 
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have on the local physical environment, irrevocably altering the community character.8. Roy Ben-Moshe has been a Brooklyn College student since 2004 and became a gardener during the current growing season. He strongly values the experience of creating a green oasis in this heavily paved portion of Brooklyn. He is opposed to the College’sdecision to bulldoze the community garden because it contradicts the College’s announcedcommitment to sustainability and place-based education.9. Murray Lantner has been a community gardener at the Campus Road Community Garden since 2008. He lives three blocks from the garden site and has been working hisplot with his wife and newly born daughter. He is opposed to the College’s destruction of the Community Garden because it will mean the terrible diminishment of the only community garden in a radius of more than a mile, and because he values theintergenerational and college/community interactions that the garden has enabled.10. Toby Sanchez is the founder and leader of the Campus Road Community Garden.She lives within a mile of the garden and her and her late husband, Roy Sanchez, were thekey initiators and organizers of the garden. Together they contributed thousands of  volunteer hours to turn an ugly strip of grass into a lush and beautiful garden. She isopposed to the College's plans to bulldoze the community garden because she values theopportunity it offers neighborhood residents to make friendships, to mentor youth, and toenjoy a beautiful green spot in a busy urban environment.11. The Campus Road Community Garden at Brooklyn College was founded and is ledby Toby Sanchez and has included thousands of volunteer hours of collaborative gardening since 1997. The organization includes more than 20 active and experienced gardeners,many new gardeners, and a waiting list of more than 50 individuals. The Gardeners have worked to find solutions to the College's parking issues, have dedicated their time tosupporting the College's announced mission of sustainability and place-based education,and have particpated in numerous forums and town halls on related subjects. They opposethe destruction of the garden because that destruction is the end of years of shared labor,the end of a place that helped them raise children, mourn loved ones, and findintergenerational, interethnic, and interfaith friendships that enrich their lives. They alsooppose the shrinking of the garden, and its confinement to tiny raised squares, and theelimination of bushes, because the new, small, “Brooklyn College Garden”, will not enablethe College's efforts to prioritize place-based education, sustainability, andcommunity/college interaction. For example, the Brooklyn College “College Now!”program, which has been run every summer for more than 5 years, has mentored morethan 100 high school students in community development, healthy eating, ecology, andcollege-readiness. This program depends absolutely on a functioning and vibrant community garden and will be practically destroyed by the bulldozing of the garden and itsreplacement by a large parking lot and a small flattened set of planters.
B. Respondents
12. Respondent Karen L. Gould is the President of Brooklyn College and, uponinformation and belief, is responsible for policy and planning decisions.

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