At the end of Water Street, between Lakeview and Maple avenues in Rockville Centre, there lies an abandoned lot. Nothing can be built on it, because the former Brooklyn Water Works waterway runs beneath it. The waterway was once essential to the water supply of Brooklyn, starting in the 1880s, before Brooklyn was incorporated as a borough of the City of New York and began to get its water from the city’s upstate reservoirs. Now the small, but neglected space is enclosed by a chain link fence. Its sole decoration is a misspelled sign.
This space, part of a strip of land that covers the waterway, which runs parallel to Lakeview Avenue, came to be owned by the Village of Rockville Centre in 1976. Most of that land is now used for municipal purposes and the rest of it is leased by adjoining landowners for a nominal fee. But this particular lot has never served any specific function. It appeared it would stay that way — until last fall when village resident Maggie Gray had the idea of starting a community garden. She and Kathleen Murray, head of Community Development for the village, took charge of a project. Also members of the Rockville Centre Conservancy, they saw the importance of improving the village in a multi-dimensional way. A community garden has the potential to beautify the visual aspect of the community, while strengthening bonds between neighbors and providing valuable fruit and vegetables.
A community garden is generally considered a single piece of land that is worked on collectively by a group of people. In recent years such gardens have risen in popularity There are more than 600 gardens in New York City that are registered with Green Thumb, a New York City Parks and Recreation program that encourages the improvement of undeveloped lots around the city.