Last month, a group of volunteers with the environmental advocacy group Time's Up decided to clean up the long-abandoned lot at 99 South 5th Street in Williamsburg. The space had been vacant for more than 20 years, and the group thought the neighborhood would benefit from a thorough cleaning and the addition of plants, flowers, trees and benches.

Unfortunately, the city had different plans. An RFP for a developer had been issued in May of last year, with the intention of turning the plot into a mixed-use development. This morning the fledgeling garden was bulldozed without warning.

According to a statement from Time's Up, a representative from Housing Preservation and Development sat in her car nearby while sanitation workers cleared the space.

"She told us we had been squatting here just long enough," said Paige Teamey, a volunteer gardener. "She told us it was out of her hands and to call the commissioner. We did. He did not answer and has not returned our calls."

The plot will, in fact, be used to create 55 units of affordable housing, a badly needed amenity in increasingly tony Williamsburg. But volunteers are upset that they were left out of the planning process.

“I was eager to talk to North Brooklyn Development Corporation and find out if they would permit us to garden until development started, or even include a garden in the plans, since the RFP requires ‘green space,’” said Keegan Stephan, one of the gardeners. “Instead, they came in without any warning and destroyed materials that we can never get back, and reversed hundreds of hours of hard work cleaning and beautifying this lot. If they would have just given us a reasonable amount of time, we would have moved the raised bed, tables, benches, stage, and beehive to another location.”

We've reached out to HPD for comment, and will update this story if we hear back.