Where They Stand: Dem. Nominees for NYS Senate

On Sept. 16, Friends of Elizabeth Street Garden surveyed the candidates for Democratic nominee for the 26th District of the New York State Senate.

We thank former City Councilmember Alan J. Gerson, Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh and District Leader Paul Newell for their strong statements of support for saving Elizabeth Street Garden in its entirety and working with the local community to identify alternative sites for affordable housing, such as the city-owned site at Hudson and Clarkson streets that can provide up to five times as much affordable housing and is supported by Manhattan Community Board 2.

Assemblymember Kavanagh is expected to be the Democratic nominee for the Lower Manhattan state senate seat vacated by former Sen. Daniel L. Squadron. His statement follows:

As the Senator, I would oppose all efforts to build housing of any kind at Elizabeth Street Garden and reject attempts to pit our communities against each other. Lower Manhattan has neither enough open space nor enough affordable housing. We need more of both, and we shouldn’t have to choose between much needed housing and a beloved — and also much needed — community open space. I understand the great importance of community gardens as open spaces accessible to the public from my many years representing the Lower East Side, which is endowed with numerous, wonderful examples of spaces saved from development by community activism. I will join Friends of Elizabeth Street Garden’s efforts, both public and private, to save the garden. I support official designation of ESG as parkland to protect it in perpetuity and would work with the community to make that a reality. In addition, I will use my deep and longstanding relationships with the Community Board, other local elected officials, and City Hall to work toward alternative housing locations that will allow us to build affordable housing AND save the garden. I will also work with the community and my colleagues in elected office to explore litigation options. Saving Elizabeth Street Garden will be among my highest priorities as a State Senator.

Garden Supporters: Elected Officials, Community Board and Parks and Community Groups

Since learning in 2013 about the side deal to build on the Garden, Manhattan Community Board 2 has held four public hearings at which overwhelming community sentiment has been for saving the Garden.

The Garden serves hundreds of visitors daily with as many volunteers, supporters have written 5,500 letters to stop development and our Friends group publishes newsletters regularly to 7,000 email subscribers.

Supporters include the following elected officials, Community Board 2, former NYC Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe and 18 parks and community organizations:

Elected Officials

Parks Organizations

Community Organizations

Community Board 2 Resolutions

  • Feb. 18, 2016: A resolution responding to a presentation from NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development and requesting a unified effort to achieve affordable housing development in Community Board 2 while preserving Elizabeth Street Garden.
    The meeting was attended by about 300 people who in a show of hands indicated strong support for preserving the Garden.
  • Dec. 17, 2015: A resolution to assure the best public use of three water tunnel shaft sites in the district, including supporting a substantial reduction of the amount of promised open space at one of the sites so that affordable housing and indoor recreation can be developed there, but only if community open space needs are addressed, and specifically, only if Elizabeth Street Garden is preserved as a public park.
  • Aug. 20, 2015: A resolution opposing a request from NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development to Lower Manhattan Development Corporation funding for an affordable housing project at 21 Spring St., aka Elizabeth Street Garden.
  • Jan. 23, 2014: A resolution urging the City to transfer Elizabeth Street Garden to NYC Department of Parks and Recreation and committing CB 2 to work with the City and elected officials to support preservation and creation of affordable housing in the district.
    The public hearing was attended by 157 guests, mostly nearby neighbors, who demonstrated overwhelming and passionate support for the preservation of the Garden, while only four people spoke in favor of affordable housing at the site and one expressed concern about the safety of current sculpture installations.