BY PHYLLIS ECKHAUS | Real estate developer David Marom is a sore loser.
As The Village Sun recently reported, Justice Andrea Masley of New York State Supreme Court ruled against Marom on Sept. 30, requiring him to remove his encroaching fence from the Lower East Side’s Children’s Magical Garden or face $1,000-a-day fines. Marom was also ordered to protect the mulberry tree central to the garden’s ecosystem and to pay arborist fees estimated at more than $46,000.
On Oct. 13, one day before the court-imposed deadline, Marom had his workers remove part of the fence.
But he spent days in the garden last week, according to gardeners. And, contrary to the court order, Marom reportedly had his workers dig new holes and erect a new fence pole; left piles of wood, cement, fencing and other debris piled up next to the garden’s beloved mulberry tree; explicitly instructed his staff not to remove cement and rubble dug into the ground around the tree; and announced that he would be returning to reinstall new fencing as soon as could get a permit from the Parks Department.
Garden president Kate Temple-West said she confronted Marom directly about the trash pile, accusing him of building a “rat palace.” He did not respond.
Garden volunteers cleaned up what they could of Marom’s mess. The rolled-up fence and wood are still lying on the ground, impacting the mulberry’s roots, they charged.
Temple-West told The Village Sun that the garden will soon return to court to hold Marom accountable.
Still, she counts last week as a big win, noting that after 10 years of litigation, “a large section of the fence is down and our precious mulberry tree has some room to breathe.”
In 2014, Marom paid more than $3 million for a portion of the garden where title was even then in dispute. In a separate case with a different judge, the garden and Marom are litigating who owns that plot. Under the legal doctrine of “adverse possession,” the garden group contends the garden is the owner by virtue of 10 years of continuous and conspicuous occupation.
Temple-West declared, “We will continue to fight until we get the whole garden back.”