A “Grinch-like” real estate developer who wants to bulldoze part of a Manhattan kids’ community garden to build apartments once threatened to overturn a port-a-potty on the sanctuary, a new lawsuit alleges.
Lower East Side residents have been waging a legal battle since 2014 to protect the decades-old Children’s Magical Garden — located at the corner of Norfolk and Stanton streets — from developer David Marom, who wants to build a residential building on part of the public green space.
In the latest salvo of litigation, the garden’s leadership has filed a new Manhattan Supreme Court civil rights lawsuit seeking legal fees and punitive damages after Marom lost his $20 million 2019 defamation claims against them — which they allege was part of his nearly decade-long campaign to harass and intimidate them into backing off of their mission.
As part of this intimidation, Marom once threw a fit in front of parents and kids at the garden — which sits across the street from elementary school PS 20 — kicking and pushing over benches before threatening to “turn over a port-a-potty into Children’s Magical Garden,” the filing alleges.
Marom’s actions are “meant to interfere with garden’s mission of providing a safe place for children to play and learn about nature and to intimidate and silence the community that is speaking out against Marom’s Grinch-like plan to bulldoze the garden,” the court documents claim.
The garden wardens say Marom has put up encroaching fencing on neighboring lots — which the Parks Department has issued orders for him to take down, the suit alleges.
He’s also sent workers to the area to “destroy trees and dump construction waste,” and his workers “unloaded dozens of containers filled with rotting garbage onto” the city oasis, the papers claim.
And Marom’s defamation claims were further proof of “his ruthless campaign” against them “for simply repeating the claim Lower East Side residents have made for decades: this land belongs to the garden,” the suit alleges.
“Plaintiffs are of limited means and Marom knew he could never recover the multi-million-dollar judgment he sought,” the court documents claim, noting the case could only have been meant to harass and intimidate them.
After Marom’s claims were tossed by a judge — and again by an appeals court in May — the garden leaders asked him to issue an apology. But he refused, forcing them to bring this suit, the filing alleges.
Garden president and director Kate Temple-West told The Post, “The garden will never be swayed by these kinds of scare tactics.
“But I was deeply hurt by community members — with young children — being sued for millions,” she said of Marom’s claims against herself and others.
“We are a sanctuary where people can find peace and children are safe to create with their imaginations,” Temple-West said.
Lawyers for Marom did not immediately return a request for comment.