Feting volunteers, planting the seed of an idea

The Elizabeth St. Garden was filled on Saturday with activists and actively running kids enjoying the unique green space.  Photo by Lincoln Anderson

The Elizabeth St. Garden was filled on Saturday with activists and actively running kids enjoying the unique green space. Photo by Lincoln Anderson

BY LINCOLN ANDERSON  |  On Saturday, the Elizabeth St. Garden celebrated its volunteers on the second anniversary of the effort that has brought the all volunteer-run Little Italy garden to life as a thriving community space.

It was a beautiful “Manhattanhenge” weekend afternoon, as golden sunlight streamed perfectly through the garden along its central west-east path. People ate and schmoozed, musicians played and kids cavorted and ran on the grass beside lion monuments and other sundry statuary.

There was plenty of free food, from rhubarb pie and hummus to hamburgers. And guess who was grilling those burgers? Terri Cude, who had just finished running the kids biking program over at Mercer St. Playground.

Also on hand was Tobi Bergman, chairperson of Community Board 2, who recently hit upon a brilliant solution that could save the beloved green space — namely, by shifting the affordable housing project currently slated for the city-owned Little Italy garden instead to a vacant, city-owned site in Hudson Square where C.B. 2 previously had hoped to create a park once the current water-shaft project there is completed.

Councilmember Margaret Chin last week told The Villager that she couldn’t comment on Bergman’s alternative proposal because that site is not in her district. So, The Villager, in turn, asked Corey Johnson’s office if the West Side councilmember would support the housing project at the alternative location at Hudson and W. Houston Sts., which is in his district.

“No one has reached out to us yet,” a Johnson spokesperson responded, saying he would have to look into the matter further.

Meanwhile, Bergman, who said he has a good working relationship with Chin, expressed confident hope that the garden can be saved. But it will take some effort, he said.

Last Saturday, Sharon D’Lugoff and Gordon Ramsey were enjoying the Elizabeth St. Garden with Ace, their young daughter, who is already modeling for Diesel. It’s only been two years since the community found out the stunning space behind the chain-link fence was actually city-owned property, then gained access to it and started using it heavily.

“My other two daughters could only look through the fence,” D’Lugoff said.

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