The lot at Woodhull and Columbia Streets had sat vacant for 35 years. Around the corner, in Brooklyn’s Carroll Gardens, the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel pours into the Gowanus Expressway. The lot was a mess, a trash bin for the remnants of drug use and a home for rats.
Lou Formisano decided to do something about it: He spent his own money to clean up the place, spread it with sod, and install patio furniture and a sprinkler, Patch reports.
Two weeks later, the city kicked him out. The lot belongs New York’s Housing Preservation & Development Department (HPD), and while the government doesn’t plan on doing anything with the lot any time soon, it doesn’t want Formisano messing with it either.
He told Patch:
“I got rid of six feet of garbage, rodents and rats. We made the block beautiful just to make things nice for the people that live here,” he said. “I don’t see why they want us out. I’m hoping we can get something resolved.”
It’s possible the city’s worried about liability. But HPD might also be worried that once the neighborhood gets attached to its new outdoor space, any future effort to build on the lot will face neighborhood opposition or that every neighborhood will want sprinklers in its empty, city-owned lots.
Or maybe officials are just peeved that Formisano made them look bad.