(Photo and rendering courtesy of Gardeners of Hooper Street Park)
Could your next kale salad come from what’s currently a trash-strewn, rat-infested lot in Williamsburg?
The Gardeners of Hooper Street Park believe so. The group of neighbors want to turn a .05-acre lot on the corner of Hooper Street and South Fifth Street into a small park, with some vegetable and flowerbeds. “We want it to be both a garden and gathering place in the community,” said Robert Atterbury, who started organizing residents last year.
The park will only be temporary; the city’s Housing and Preservation Department, which owns the lot, plans to use it for affordable housing, though it’s not clear when it will begin developing it. But Atterbury and others think it can still serve as the sort of open, public space that’s rare in this part of Bushwick.
Community Board 1 supported the park’s creation during its March meeting, and GreenThumb, the Parks Department’s community gardening program, is currently considering the group’s application.
In the meantime, Atterbury’s group is looking for more volunteers, planning the park’s design, and fundraising to purchases benches, tables, a tool shed and composting bins. They’re working with El Puente’s Green Light District and Nuestros Niños Child Development, a daycare near the site.
Two challenges the gardeners face is leveling the ground, which is not even with the street and could be a safety concern, and getting rid of a rat infestation.
“Everyone dumps their stuff in the lot,” says Tiffany Frances, another involved resident. “I’ve seen strollers in there. It’s ridiculous – the lot is fenced, so they would have to make an effort to throw their stuff away.”