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Seniors Fume Over New Fees At Botanical Garden

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.

Please offer your thoughts in the comments section below.

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  • Anna

    I am saddened and disgusted by some comments….”deadwood directors’, “uesless employees’, etc. These dedicated people have been meeting with the seniors to come up with a better solution, but the seniors wanted no part of it. Not to mention the Board of Trustees, who work many hours and donate funds, all for the love of the Garden and its people. Please, before you shoot your mouth off, consider all that the Garden, and places like it, offer, while barely holding their own due to budget cuts. It’s a shame there are so many ignorant people in the world. Let one of them just TRY to do better.

  • joan padouvas

    I find that Queens residents are the lowest in the order of having any benefits in improving their community life. Don’t we pay taxes
    I am fuming also for the botanical garden fees needed to enter.
    I remember how happy I was to see the new fencing installed around the garden including in this fencing a path way over the bridge. Little did I know that this fence was placed to keep us out and leave no access to the pathway that led across the overpass bridge to the Flushing Meadow park.
    Was this what Bloomberg have in mind when he gave the millions that Carnegie foundation donated for improving the publics life.
    I agree in time of financial crisis we should spend less but public parks and the world fair was developed to bring peace to all of us, not make us fenced out looking in to what we used to have.
    I can see having a ticket for tourists but a ticket for us Flushing residents?
    You have limited everything in Flushing that can make our life more decent
    No garbage cans to throw our garbage away.We live within garbage. I walk my dog pick after him and have to carry his poop back home for lack of receptacle cans. You have Fenced in our playgrounds with the promise that something better will be built and becomes waste land and put tickets for places that belong to the public.

  • Christina

    Nothing against seniors, but right now a lot (most?) families are under financial stress. Everyone is suppose to pull together. Taxes and who is to blame aside, asking seniors to start paying for some things is not a lot to ask. You are on a fixed income you say? There are thousands of families in the area who would love to be on a fixed income, to know they will definitely have X amount coming in every month, no matter how small. Especially with the senior population out numbering the working generation.

    • joan

      you should leave the seniors alone. If you have a battle to fight fight it with the people who drain the funds from the botanical garden eq. useless botanical garden employees that are getting a paycheck just to be one of the worthless working generation.
      Seniors have worked hard and perhaps planting helps them make their next meal and it is a peaceful endeavor taking nothing from anyone else

  • George Scott



    mayor mikey Caesar does not swears..and the brain is brainless..what are you inhaling?in the end its always about the worthless paper money..

  • Johnny

    “We have to find ways to earn our own income. We need the support from the people who do benefit,” Kleinberg said. Humm! It seems to me there are too many directors for the little work they do if they have to find ways to justify their salary! Perhaps if they got rid of a few “deadwood” directors, there might be a surplus of funds, enough to let the seniors have their garden without charge.

  • Patricia Marya from Manhattan

    To Quentin Henderson and to Al: you both make sense. When does this stressful thinking ever end? We members of the Sage generation (my term of us) are useful when there is no competition or no energy; however, when things begin to go well, then, of course, let’s eliminate them from the picture and maybe they will go away quietly. But, I hope you Good Gardeners of Queens will not. My sister is part of the Community Garden movement in Vancouver, BC and, in fact, has a plot in Stanley Park, rather like being allowed to garden in Central Park. This would never, ever happen there. When is this city and this country going to come to its senses and realize that its true Natural Resource is its people.

  • ronnie from morris park

    Hey lets open gardens in all the space Ratners isn’t going to use in Brooklyn we already gave him 100 million plus in tax breaks.

  • The Brain

    I am looking forward to being elected to the City Council and I have a new method for a fair tax increase. The City of New York has an untold number of people on its payroll and when these people retire they will need all of the City benefits that Police and Firemen have. Once a guy gets into office, especially in the Board of Education and has room for another “assistant” he hires his brother-in-law who was a pushcart peddler the day before and as soon as he is hired he becomes a director of something.
    Now for the new fair tax……I propose that everyone who is considered a senior be taxed the amount of his/her age each year and double that amount in leap years. For example, if a person is sixty years of age, the senior tax will be sixty dollars, if the person is sixty one the tax is sixty one dollars and increases each year by a dollar and then doubles on the leap year, BUT, if that person skips a birthday then the a surcharge of ten dollarsis imposed, ie, suppose the person goes from sixty to sixty two, bypassing his sixty first birthday then the tax is sixty two dollars which is his new age plus the ten dollar surcharge which now becomes the new amount of seventy two dollars and after forty years the surcharge is removed.

    According to my estimates over the course of ten years the city can raise twenty billion dollars with this fair and equitable tax.

  • Re

    GO TELL IT TO “MONEY-BAGS” BLOOMBERG, as he controls the parks and land commissioners. We here innthe Bronx have an even more outrageous situation at the Bronx Botanical Gardens, adjacent to the bronx Zoo. Now, because the bucolic beauty and serenity that has set this urban osasis apart has been turned into another “theme-park, replete with fenced-in gardens and sectors which people have to pay for except two days a week; also incresed tour-bus traffic for tourist so congestive that one would have to soon consider traffic lights. Added to that, the employment has increased three-fold, including police security. How can one feel relaxed with this kind of atmosphere? There nary has been a incident at the park, but of course how else are city emolyees expect work? The landscape is further marred by yet another arborium, this time erected and self-dedicated to the Rockerfellers. Just so as to remind us peasants whose “crown lands” we are treading!

  • Quentin Henderson

    This kind of financial penalty on those who are more vunerable clearly displays the raw side of life in the bountifull USA . Requesting that gardeners donate their garden produce (for sale to other members of the Public in support of the Botanical gardens) in lieue of cash payments might be the better way to go……

  • AL

    Agreed. Billions are being wasted in useless Wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya. Yet, in our own country there are always no money available. Shame on ALL the useless politicians we elect to ROB us.

  • Richie

    It’s a real shame that we can’t use our tax dollars that these people contributed over the years to this cause . Shutting 121 senior citizen centers, the list goes on but yes will spend billions to help other countries, and spend like there is no tommorrow in Libya and Afganistan. This country is and is heading downhill unless we all wake up and do something about it.

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