The Second Department determined land used for a community garden (Lot 142) was never unequivocally dedicated as parkland by the city. Therefore the public trust doctrine did not prohibit the city from developing the land:
Under the public trust doctrine, a land owner cannot alienate land that has been impliedly dedicated to parkland without obtaining the approval of the legislature … . A party seeking to establish such an implied dedication to parkland and thereby successfully challenging the alienation of the land must show that (1) “[t]he acts and declarations of the land owner indicating the intent to dedicate his land to the public use [are] unmistakable in their purpose and decisive in their character to have the effect of a dedication and (2) that the public has accepted the land as dedicated to a public use” … . “It remains an open question whether the second prong . . . applies to a municipal land owner”… . Regardless, “[w]hether a parcel has become a park by implication is a question of fact which must be determined by such evidence as the owner’s acts and declarations, and the circumstances surrounding the use of the land” … . “[I]f a landowner’s acts are equivocal, or do not clearly and plainly indicate the intention to permanently abandon the property to the use of the public, they are insufficient to establish a case of dedication'”… .”The burden of proof rests on the party asserting that the land has been dedicated for public use” … .
Here, the defendants submitted evidence showing that the City’s actions and declarations did not unequivocally manifest an intent to dedicate Lot 142 as parkland. Their exhibits showed that the City permitted the community garden to exist on a temporary basis as the City moved forward with its plans to develop the parcel. Their exhibits also demonstrated that any management of Lot 142 by the City’s Department of Parks and Recreation was understood to be temporary and provisional … . Matter of Coney Is. Boardwalk Community Gardens v City of New York, 2019 NY Slip Op 04162, Second Dept 5-29-19