Community gardeners head to housing court - Metro US

Community gardeners head to housing court

Maple Street Community Garden
Courtesy Maple Street Community Garden

Tenders of a beloved community garden are going to Brooklyn housing court on Monday to defend their right to beautify a community garden that was once an eyesore.

“I’m hoping the case will be dismissed,” said Paula Segal, executive and legal director of 596 acres, a garden advocacy group.

The lot that is now Maple Street Community Garden, in Prospect Lefferts Gardens, sat vacant for years, collecting trash, Segal said. Community members transformed the lot in 2012, and continue to maintain the gardens.

Segal said the landlords, Michael and Joseph Makhani, tried to get rid of the garden last fall. Crews came with a truck, and dismantled a raised bed before police officers arrived. Media reports at the time said the NYPD ordered the brothers to leave the garden after they couldn’t provide proper proof of ownership.

Monday’s court appearance is the fourth for the eviction case. Segal said a group of gardeners and community members are planning to pack the small housing courtroom to take a stand against the “bully tactics” of the Makhani brothers, who both served three months in prison more than 15 years ago after pleading guilty to a foreclosed property scheme in Queens, the New York Times previously reported.

“The point of us is fighting in housing court,” Segal said, adding it’s important for the gardeners who transformed a lot to stand up to men who may or may not have a legal claim to the property.

Calls to the Makhanibrothers’ lawyer were not immediately returned.

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