Drew Gardens remains locked amid rift with state DOT

Ivette Vargas, the secretary of the Drew Gardens Board, told News 12 that the West Farms space was used to teach younger Bronx residents about the environment, how to nurture bees and grow food.

News 12 Staff

Feb 9, 2022, 1:08 AM

Updated 834 days ago

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For over two decades, Drew Gardens on East Tremont Avenue has served as a community space for gardening, recreation and education – but as of last week, it's shut down.
Ivette Vargas, the secretary of the Drew Gardens Board, told News 12 that the West Farms space was used to teach younger Bronx residents about the environment, how to nurture bees and grow food.
"We grow organic produce,” she said. “We don't sell any of our things. We give them away in our free farmer's market."
Instead of getting ready for the spring, the gardens are unattended and overgrown. The state Department of Transportation informed them last Thursday in an email that the property was locked down.
"We were told that we could no longer continue servicing the community and we really have no idea why,” says Vargas. “We were told that they need to get access to the Cross Bronx so they can continue the Greenway Project – so why can’t we just co-exist?”
News 12 reached out to the state DOT. They provided a statement:
"NYS DOT has been corresponding in good faith with the current occupants but they have not lived up to their obligations under the law, including failure to register with the Department of State and carry proper insurance. We recently gave the occupants advanced notice of a deadline to produce evidence of registration and acceptable insurance. That deadline has passed."
The team at Drew Gardens disputes those claims.
The spokesman did also add, “NYS DOT will work with the city and the community regarding the operation of this space as a community garden."


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