Neighbors Fight to Turn UES Eyesore into Community Garden

Neighbors raise awareness of the UES lot that's been an eyesore for years/Upper East Site
Overgrown lot before being cleared/Upper East Site

MANHATTAN – A group of concerned of Upper East Siders are calling on neighbors to help rid a Lenox Hill block of a longstanding blight— a vacant, overgrown and neglected site at the corner of East 78th Street and First Avenue. The group, joined by local elected officials, crowded sidewalks near the site on Saturday, gathering signatures for a petition to turn the eyesore into something positive, like the welcoming green space of a community garden.

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The lot includes two properties, one which has been vacant for a decade— the other, empty for more than seven years— Google Streetview capturing the persisting neglect and quick overgrowth of trees and bushes on the site which now darkens the sidewalk it hangs over.

Vacant lot at East 78th Street & First Avenue in 2015/Google
Vacant lot at East 78th Street & First Avenue in 2015/Google

Grassroots community group UES Green Space Now organized Saturday’s event— which drew the likes of incoming City Council Member Julie Menin as well as Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney who is lending her political might to this David vs Goliath fight.

The group says the long neglect has caused unsanitary conditions to grow and fester and vermin to proliferate the site.

According to the organizers, the first step to move forward with plans to reimagine the space, is to track down the property owner, whose identity is shielded by a LLC, a type of business structure that can be used to conceal a company’s ownership,

Upper East Siders raised awareness about the eyesore on Saturday/Meryl Jacobs for Upper East Site
Upper East Siders raised awareness about the eyesore on Saturday/Meryl Jacobs for Upper East Site

“I think we should all take responsibility to try to figure out who really owns this, who’s behind the LLC,” Congresswoman Maloney told the small crowd gathered around the lot on Saturday.

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“At the City level, I’m going to be looking at legislation that says when you have vacant lots that have been vacant for so many years,” Council Member-elect Menin added, “I want the parks department to come in and build a community garden, because that’s what should happen.”

Council Member-elect Julie Menin poses with UES Green Space Now on Saturday/Meryl Jacobs for Upper East Site
Council Member-elect Julie Menin poses with UES Green Space Now on Saturday/Meryl Jacobs for Upper East Site

Upper East Site was not able to reach the owner of the vacant lot for a comment this story.

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