Olentangy Valley News

Community garden gets green light; planning begins

Powell leaders hope garden at Arbor Ridge Park will be ready by fall

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A plan to build a community garden in a Powell park received green thumbs up from the city's Operations Committee last week.

The committee gave city Parks Director Jeff Snyder the go-ahead to move forward with plans for creating a garden near the front of Arbor Ridge Park. The park is located at the southwest corner of East Olentangy Street and Bennett Parkway.

Snyder, who announced the location at a community meeting earlier this month, said he hopes the park eventually will be overseen by a board of volunteers that will set and enforce garden rules.

"I think the biggest challenge will be that step," he said. "It's hard to get people to volunteer for this kind of thing."

Snyder suggested the parks department should launch the garden on its own, then possibly turn supervision of the garden over to the volunteer group.

"If we really want to see this take off ... the city (should) offer it as a recreation program initially," he said.

Snyder said he is in the process of getting a quote on how much it would cost the city to run water to the garden, which likely will be adjacent to the park's tennis courts. That may be the only major cost associated with the project, he said, noting that local businesses and charitable groups might donate materials and labor.

"It could turn out to be a really cool community project," he said.

Councilman Tom Counts said he thought the space near the front of Arbor Ridge Park was an excellent choice for the project.

"I like the proximity of this spot to the parking," he said. "That makes it really, really helpful."

Councilman Frank Bertone said the city needed to figure out some way to prevent deer from accessing the garden, whether by a fence or other means.

"Without protecting it, my worry is people are going to just lose interest," he said.

Snyder agreed that keeping deer out of the garden would be a struggle, adding that council would have to decide if a fence would be appropriate for the site.

Counts said he supported the project because it would help foster a sense of community.

"It brings people from their homes into a common area and allows them to interact with other members of the community," he said. "I think that's one of the things we're really trying to achieve."

The spirit of community likely won't be limited to city residents. Snyder and the committee members agreed the garden should be run like other city recreation programs, which allow nonresidents to sign up 48 hours after registration opens to city residents.

Snyder said the next step is to bring council a cost estimate, a proposal for the garden's layout and guidelines for the program. He said he hoped residents would be gardening at the park by fall.

"The only unfortunate part is ... I'd love to have it done for spring or summer -- but we want to do it right," Counts said.

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