Update: Community Garden at McCord Park
At tomorrow’s City Council meeting (Monday, 5.21, 7:30 p.m., City Hall), we will be discussing and, in all likelihood, voting to approve a plan for the McCord Park renovation. At the heart of our debate will be the fate of the Community Garden at the park—whether to remove, shrink, or retain & improve.
At last week’s Council meeting there was extensive public testimony on this topic, presentation of the Parks & Rec. Commission’s recommendations (a 4-3 vote recommending the removal of the garden from the park and for establishing one or more gardens elsewhere [the viability of any of the alternate locations is itself a topic of dispute]), and a subsequent Q & A period with Council. It was decided at the end of the meeting to defer a final decision by Council until the 5.21 meeting.
So tomorrow night we will consider a full range of possibilities for the Community Garden (three Options have been prepared by city staff), with likely amendments or additional Options presented by Council members themselves. I do expect a vote at the end of our deliberations.
My viewpoints and commitments on this issue have been expressed previously (https://davidrobinsonblog.com/2018/05/worthingtons-community-garden-program/). In sum: I view the garden as an important public asset, expressive of who we are as a community. As such, I view its visible and accessible location in McCord Park to be a positive feature—not an unwanted one—central to its role in contributing to healthy community life. To reduce, remove, or minimize the garden in any way would be a step backwards, out of sync with emerging societal trends that prize what is authentic, sustainable, and local (look at the success of our Farmers Market). Whatever incremental gains could be realized to the park’s layout through the garden’s removal are considerably outweighed by the garden’s contribution to public education, an ethos of sustainability, and our city’s claim to environmental stewardship.
For these reasons and more I support 1) retaining the garden in its current size and location, or at a minimum in its reduced size as portrayed in the “compromise” plan; 2) a strengthened organizational structure for the gardener group to improve accountability and programming; 3) development of additional garden locations as feasibility and funding are determined, and 4) improved aesthetics of public gardens (hedges, fences, etc.).