Monday, January 24, 2011

Supporters of CGC Plan Gather at City Council Workshop

Tonight was the first presentation to the South Portland City Council of the CGC's plan for the new community garden. The proposed garden would be located at Hamlin School on the corner of Sawyer St. and Ocean Ave. Peggy Stewart, CGC member, enthusiastically reviewed the major points of the project. Each City Council member had a copy of the comprehensive plan for the meeting.

Overall the audience consisted of several supporters. There were two residents who live across the road from Hamlin School who were against the idea of the garden altogether. They cited concerns of traffic, parking, and that the garden will be unsightly.

In contrast one neighbor who also lives across the road from the proposed garden came to voice her support for the plan. She supports the use of the city property as a shared community space for a garden. Members of the CGC were in attendance stating their personal reasons for working with the group and their hopes that the proposed lease of the property for the garden would be accepted by the Council.

Councilors were very supportive of the plan overall. Several of them commented about the positive impact community gardens have in cities and how the idea was an excellent one. Several of them noted the waiting list for the Hinckley Park Garden was long and this garden was needed to fulfil those needs. They liked the idea of using the garden to help educate the local children about planting and growing food and supported the use of three plots of veggies that will be donated to the local South Portland Food Pantry. They also commented they would like to see the group expand gardens across the city into other areas where the city is more densely populated, Red Bank for example (which CGC plans to do following the success of the Hamilin School Garden).

Councilors asked CGC to come up with some more ideas to work on the following concerns they have about the plan:
  • parking concerns
  • location of the garden on the Hamlin School property, will the garden take up too much space?
  • neighbor concerns - the suggestion was made to have the concerned neighbors work with the CGC to collaborate and find solutions to the residents' concerns so everyone can be comfortable with the plan.
  • the length of the lease, does the city know what they will be doing with the property in 2, 3 or 5 years? (the lease was proposed by the city to be 5 years, CGC had asked for 10)
  • specifics regarding access to the garden (a possible curb cut in the sidewalk would have to be made to make it accessible for people with disabilities)
  • water access - possible plumbing needs / requirements
  • specific plans for the group to ensure participants in the garden are following the regulations and are keeping the garden in good shape
  • planting shrubs around the permimeter of the garden to make it more attractive to the neighbors.
  • locations of gardens in other more densely populated parts of the city are needed
These issues will be worked on by the CGC with the City Manager and the plan will be brought back to the Council to see if there needs to be another workshop or if the lease proposal can go forward.

We will keep you updated on any progress, and until then please spread the word about CGC! We need your support!

Please contact us if you have any questions, comments or concerns!
Crystal Goodrich, CGC member

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