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Plants & Gardens Blog

Fight for Sunlight Campaign Opposes High-Rise Towers

Three hundred activists came together in the Palm House earlier this month for the 2020 kickoff of Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s Fight for Sunlight campaign.

The campaign is a grassroots effort to prevent high-rise towers from blocking sunlight to the Garden’s greenhouse complex. Specifically situated for access to sunlight, this complex houses 20 percent of the Garden’s plant collection—including rare and endangered orchids, cacti, and bonsai—as well as the growing facilities that help replenish all 52 acres of the Garden.

The 39-story towers that are proposed at this site, just 150 feet from the Garden, would cast shadows that would significantly harm the plant collection.

Speakers gave the crowd more details about the impact these shadows would have on the Garden and how the public can help by speaking out on the proposed zoning change that would allow such tall buildings.

More: Sign the Fight for Sunlight Petition!

“Safeguarding light and air is the origin story of zoning—it’s the reason zoning exits here in New York,” said Elizabeth Goldstein, Municipal Arts Society president. “We deserve a public policy that safeguards light for all New Yorkers.”

Current zoning protects the Garden’s access to sunlight by capping building height in the surrounding neighborhood.

For an earlier Fight for Sunlight event in December, Garden staff took campaign volunteers to the site and through the surrounding blocks to get a close-up view of the area in questions.

“We’re hoping to change the conversation around this project,” said Scot Medbury, Brooklyn Botanic Garden president. “It’s too much—going from the six- or seven-story buildings allowed under the present zoning to a pair of towers that are 39 stories with high bulkheads.”

The Garden’s Horticulture and Education staff also hosted visits to the conservatories and greenhouses and explained how the shadows would affect their work.

Moving forward, the volunteers will help spread the word about Fight for Sunlight in the community. More information about Fight for Sunlight and how the towers will affect the Garden can be found online.

Sarah Schmidt oversees BBG's digital editorial content, including the blog and how-to articles, and edits the Guides for a Greener Planet handbook series.

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