Ganthers Place Park for All People last week was recognized with an award from Franklin Park Conservatory.

Ganthers Place Park for All People last week was recognized with an award from Franklin Park Conservatory.

On Sept. 17, the newly dedicated pocket park on the city's south side was named Neighborhood Improvement Project of the Year as part of the 2008 Growing to Green Awards.

The awards have been presented each year since 2000 as part of the conservatory's outreach program that promotes community gardening in the central Ohio area.

Ganthers Place Park, 566 Reinhard Ave., was nominated for the award by Keep Columbus Beautiful, which secured a $10,000 "Think Green" Waste Management grant from Keep America Beautiful to turn an abandoned lot into a thriving pocket park, said to be the first green park in Columbus.

"This is a great honor for them and we were just delighted," said Sherri Palmer, program manager for Keep Columbus Beautiful.

The Think Green grant was crucial in turning the park green. It paid for solar street lamps, benches made from recycled materials, composters and rain barrels. A greenhouse to benefit the neighborhood will be added in the future.

The park itself is the brainchild of two men who were recognized last week at the park's dedication.

Allen Carrel and Ken Williams formed a block watch to help fight area blight. The garden is an extension of the block watch's mission. Carrel and Williams received a $10,000 Neighborhood Partnership Grant through the Columbus Foundation and United Way of Central Ohio to purchase the land.

"I think it is amazing that if you do the work everything else follows," Carrel said.

Carrel said Keep Columbus Beautiful was instrumental in the park's growth. He said he believed the award was a large stepping stone for receiving grants to continue adding to the park.

"I guess you don't think of all this stuff happening to you; you just think of having a better neighborhood," Carrel said.

Williams echoed much of what Carrel said.

"It just keeps us going to have people recognize our work; it just means a lot because we do get frustrated," Williams said.

Bill Dawson is the Growing to Green coordinator for Franklin Park Conservatory.

Dawson said there were 120 gardens that qualified for the award.

Both Carrel and Williams, in part, won the award because the garden has helped transform the area, Dawson said. "It's not just an oasis of pretty flowers and grass; it is transforming the neighborhood," Dawson said.