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Seniors Fume Over New Fees At Botanical Garden

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Senior gardeners

Senior gardeners are none too pleased with the Botanical Garden raising fees. (Photo: CBS 2)

Tony Aiello thumbnail Tony Aiello
Tony Aiello serves as a CBS 2 general assignment reporter. After...
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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Spring has only just sprung, but it’s already a season of growing discontent in Queens. Senior citizens say they’re being gouged by new fees at the Botanical Garden.

At the senior garden they have a slogan: don’t grow old, grow vegetables!

But now the gardeners are growing upset — at new fees demanded by the Botanical Garden — home to the seniors’ quarter-acre community plot.

“It’s pretty outrageous I think,” one said.

“In the 45-year history of the Garden they never charged for a garden plot, and never charged for parking,” senior gardener Joseph Siegel told CBS 2’s Tony Aiello.

Now the Queens Botanical Garden wants to charge for both — about $240 for the season, per gardener.

“Some of these people actually can’t afford it. I mean, we’re all seniors living on a fixed income,” Lola McLinden said.

“They raised the price during the winter. We didn’t have no chance to negotiate,” Tom Giordano added.

The new fees are about as popular as parasites on the potatoes, but Garden officials said they are just trying to deal with a bumper crop of budget woes.

“It’s very hard to charge them the money that we have to charge and hear how upset they are,” education director Patty Kleinberg said.

Kleinberg said city funding has been cut and donations are down.

“We have to find ways to earn our own income. We need the support from the people who do benefit,” Kleinberg said.

McLinden, 91, predicted the fees will drive away her fellow gardeners.

“They’re angry and sad, and a lot of them are not coming back,” she said.

She said she believes half the plots this year will go unplanted.

Garden officials said after this year any plots not used by seniors will be offered to families.

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