NEW YORK(CBSNewYork) — Something will be missing from Coney Island this summer.
It’s not the rides or the boardwalk, but a popular community garden which was bulldozed on Saturday, CBS 2’s Weijia Jiang reported.
“It’s killing me already,” Elena Voitsenko said.
Voitsenko watched as what she called her “second home” was demolished.
“We were coming here so many years. We are volunteers and made it such a big job,” she said.
Voitsenko’s family is one of forty that had plots in the Boardwalk Community Garden on Coney Island where locals used the space to plant fruits, vegetables, and flowers and shared crops with each other for 16 years.
On Saturday morning, bulldozers took over and leveled the land for a development project. Crated up chickens were the only thing left to reclaim.
“They just bulldozed it. They didn’t give us any notice. It’s very upsetting,” gardener Daria Opendek said.
The city owns the land but the group Coney Island Holdings is leasing it and plans to build a new amphitheater on the site.
A group spokesman said that the gardeners were using it without permission and one neighbor agreed.
“Did they pay any rent? It was illegal anyway,” said the neighbor who asked to have his name withheld.
Gardeners argued that the property was designated as park land and should have been left alone. The developer said that it already helped some people to relocate to a garden just five blocks away.
Others said that they don’t think there will be enough space.
“I’m heartbroken. Not only for myself but for the elderly people gardening here everyday. This was their life. It kept them alive. It kept them busy,” gardener Yury Opendik said.
Opendik and his wife led the way in rebuilding the garden after Superstorm Sandy destroyed it. Now, it has been leveled again this time, for good.
Gardeners said that the demolition happened without warning or time to save the crops that they worked so hard to grow.
Coney Island Holdings said that they will build more plots at the new site. Some of the gardeners plan to file a lawsuit.
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