Alice’s Garden Brings Nature to the Public


View from inside Alice's Garden

Alice’s Garden opens to public after two years of renovation. Photo: Qi Chen.

“This is everyone’s own private garden,” announced New York Sen. Tom Duane at the opening ceremony of Alice’s Garden on September 24, a public garden between Dyer Street and Tenth Avenue on West 34th Street. The garden, once managed by Alice Parsekian, a local caretaker who passed away in 2010, had fallen into disrepair before being brought into the attention of Community Board 4 by the Clinton Housing Development Company (CHDC) and Hell’s Kitchen Neighborhood Association (HKNA).

The garden opened to the public after over two years of clean-up by community volunteers, and negotiation between the neighborhood association and the Port Authority, which is leasing the land to HKNA for a nominal fee. The transfer of the lease is in the final stages, said Shanti Nagel, director of community cultivation at CHDC. Once it is official, which should be before the end of the year, anyone who wants to visit will be able to rent a key to the main gate for $2 from the community board office.

Currently, only plot owners have access to the garden, where they are free to grow any type of plants, including vegetables. All of the 17 plots in the garden have been adopted permanently by nearby residents. Newcomers will be added to the waitlist, where they may adopt a plot if the previous owner has been inactive in gardening duties for two months.

The garden features a pathway paved by bricks brought in from demolished buildings. Volunteers from the CHDC and the YAI Network, a national agency that assists people with disabilities, helped with the rebuilding of the garden. Steven Napolitano, the general manager of the Port Authority Bus Terminal, said that he is happily surprised that everything is working out. “This is an oasis in the neighborhood,” he said.