In a key victory for community activists and tree lovers, a state Supreme Court judge has ordered the city to reassess a fiercely contested renovation of a beloved Brooklyn park that would have razed more than 80 trees.

On Thursday, New York Supreme Court Justice Julio Rodriguez III ruled to place a temporary restraining order on a $10.5 million renovation of Fort Greene Park, concluding that there were gaps in the city's processes and that officials need to better back up their claims that the work wouldn't have a significant environmental impact.

Although several aspects of the renovation drew criticism from residents, the call to cut down 83 trees had incensed many environmentalists and arborists who argued that the city should be doing its best to preserve trees as part of its ongoing commitment to sustainability and building a green urban canopy.

The city had determined that 32 of the trees are diseased, but as the judge noted, did not indicate "why the other 51 trees must be removed."

Last April, Friends of Fort Greene Park, along with the Sierra Club and the City Club of New York, filed a lawsuit challenging a 2017 plan by the city's Parks Department to redevelop a nearly eight acre portion of a prominent northwest section of the 30-acre park near St. Edwards Street and Myrtle Avenue. The work would have included the rebuilding of a stepped-entrance to incorporate a ramp for wheelchair accessibility and paving over an estimated 13,300-square-foot of greenery to create a new plaza.

The Parks Department had maintained that such changes did not significantly alter the park to warrant an environmental impact review. But opponents, who in a prior lawsuit succeeded in obtaining a previously heavily-redacted report from a landscape architect commissioned by the city, argued that the city had misrepresented the scope of its impact.

Although the decision does not void the city's plans, Judge Rodriguez cited several portions of the project that needed more justification as to why they were considered minor maintenance: a planned expansion of an adult fitness area, the reconstruction of a barbecue area and basketball court, as well as the possible reconstruction of a sidewalk.

Activists said they hoped that the ruling would lead Parks officials to make changes based on community input.

"We hope this lawsuit is another opportunity for the agency to work with the residents for a better outcome," said Ling Hsu, one of the members of Friends of Fort Greene Park involved in the legal campaign.

Hsu said that from the beginning, their group did not want to go to court. "They said they had done unprecedented outreach, but they did not take community pushback into consideration," she said, about Parks officials.

Rendering of new plaza proposed for Fort Greene Park.

In a statement, Kate Bartholomew, chair of the Atlantic Chapter of the Sierra Club, said, “It is heartening to see that Justice Rodriguez also recognizes that the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation failed to adequately assess the implications of its design decision when choosing to move forward with a plan to alter and renew Fort Greene Park."

In contrast, the Fort Greene Park Conservancy has been in support of the city's project, which is part of the city's Parks Without Borders initiative that is designed to make parks more open and welcoming to the public. "Last week's ruling determined that NYC Parks needs to more thoroughly document and justify the project," said Rosamond Fletcher, the group's executive director, in a statement. "We hope that the matter will be resolved soon so that the park, in particular the north side that has not seen significant capital investment since the 1970s, is able to benefit from new infrastructure, ADA accessible entrances, native plantings, and greater recreational amenities."

Last spring, opponents won an earlier court battle that gave them access to a a 162-page analysis of the park that the city had commissioned from a landscape architect in 2015. But the city ultimately decided not to use recommendations from the plan, which included preserving a "continuous tree canopy." It also held back the report from the public, releasing only a highly-redacted version after receiving a Freedom of Information Law request by activists.

Judge Rodriguez called the city's failure to consider the report "troubling."

The city indicated that they may appeal the ruling. "The court has delayed important park enhancements such as improved accessibility and other benefits that were supported by the surrounding community. We disagree with this ruling," said Nicholas Paolucci, a spokesperson for the city's Law Department. "The city followed the law and the approvals needed for this type of project. An environmental review was not required. We are reviewing the city’s legal options to continue this important initiative."

UPDATE: The story has been updated to include a statement from the Fort Greene Conservancy.