Portal Park once was an eyesore that Clintonville and University District residents didn't see eye to eye about.

Portal Park once was an eyesore that Clintonville and University District residents didn't see eye to eye about.

Now it's a place people keep an eye on to make sure a major renovation project maintains as much visual appeal as possible.

The Portal Park Spring Care Day is scheduled from 9 to 11 a.m. Sunday, June 2, at the 0.15-acre property at the northeast corner of North High Street and Arcadia Avenue.

"It's that time ... we need to do a lot of pruning and upkeep, and that will get us through the year," said Sue Wightman, founder of Friends of Portal Park and one of the main reasons the neglected property finally got some attention and a makeover.

"I would call them spring jobs that every garden needs," she added. "It really is like an overhaul to approach the year. That's basically why we try to get out neighbors together."

While some of the plantings that were part of last year's $100,000 renovation project lost the battle to drought, others are doing so well that volunteers are needed June 2 to subdivide them and fill in some gaps, Wightman said.

Clintonville Area Commission members and some on the University Area Commission had at times a combative relationship when it came to the city's smallest park. Although constructed and dedicated in 1983 with funding that came through the CAC, and at one time sporting a "Welcome to Clintonville" sign, the site technically is within the University Area Commission's boundaries.

Some on the UAC, frustrated by the behavior of some homeless people who apparently spent a lot of time in the park when not bothering nearby business owners and passersby, wanted all the benches removed to make it less likely anyone would take a nap there.

A few on the CAC were equally frustrated -- at the seeming insensitivity of colleagues to the south to the plight of the homeless.

All of this came about after Wightman, who recently retired as an instructor at Ohio State University, grew weary of looking at the neglected patch of ground.

"I just saw the deterioration of the park," she said last week. "That would have been more than five years ago. I thought, 'Wow, what can we do?' "

What she and others who formed Friends of Portal Park, which at that time often was referred to as Clintonville Portal Park, could do was organize cleanups and plantings and even sign "adoption papers" with Columbus Recreation and Parks Department officials promising to keep the property up.

"It really started with, I just didn't like the look of it," Wightman recalled.

While she and volunteers continued to do what they could to maintain the plants and trees in the tiny park, city officials, business owners and representatives of both area commissions held a series of meetings at which differences were settled, decisions made and plans for improvements settled upon.

"My part in it is to maintain and create that oasis in that busy intersection," Wightman said.

She added she and Friends of Portal Park could use the help of a dozen or more volunteers during the spring care day, giving as much time as they can during the two-hour span.