NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — For months, residents in an Upper East Side neighborhood tried to turn an abandoned, rat-infested lot into a green space.
Now the Yorkville property has been cleaned up, and the community garden may be one step closer to becoming a reality, CBS2’s Thalia Perez reported Thursday.READ MORE: Sources: Texas Synagogue Hostage Taker Flew Into JFK Airport, Stayed In NYC Before Incident
Jane Lindberg said she and Upper East Side neighbor Susan Gitlin took a stand after they became tired of looking at the boarded-up lot on East 78th Street and First Avenue. She shared with CBS2 photos and said over the last decade it had become an eyesore.
“People were literally afraid to walk along this when it’s dark because rats would come out,” Lindberg said.
The dream is to transform the neglected property into a green space that would be useful and that everyone could enjoy. Incoming Councilwoman Julie Menin took notice and got results.
“They agreed to bring in a private company to clear the weeds. They agreed to bring in a private company to address the rat infestation. So that has happened. Now, I’m very focused on this community garden,” Menin said.
Gitlin said the lot cleanup is a step in the right direction.READ MORE: Suspect In Texas Hostage Situation Called New York City Rabbi Twice During Standoff
“Every other borough has these community parks, every other part of Manhattan, and I think we deserve it,” Gitlin said. “But to let it sit here, it seems like such a waste of space and time.”
Perez spoke by phone to the property owner, Robert Chou, who said plans to develop the property are in the works.
When asked if a community green space is an option, Chou said, “No.”
Menin said negotiations are ongoing.
“If they refuse to do so, I’ve made clear to them I will explore a legislative solution. That would, in other words, create temporary community gardens while a lot is vacant,” Menin said.
If the property owner agrees to a temporary community garden, Menin said the Parks Department will pick up the tab for the supplies and the soil.MORE NEWS: Upper East Side Councilwoman Funds More Frequent Litter Bin Pickups
CBS2’s Thalia Perez contributed to this report.