Monday, September 14, 2009

Emails about the park location


Good Friday afternoon and I hope this e-mail finds you safely home from time on the coast.

_ spoke with Tom K. yesterday and he directed us to you. We have concerns associated with the Community Garden and want to make sure that we go to the source for information, hence we are coming to you.

Would you be willing to contact me when you return home? I would rather have you answer our questions via a conversation to ensure that we are able to ask follow-up questions and "unpack" some of our concerns instead of e-mail.

My cell phone # is .

Thank you,
_ Rockport Rd.

Hi, _,

Thank you so much for writing and starting a solution focused conversation! It is refreshing! I would love to talk with you and hear your concerns. I will call you Sunday afternoon.


ps I like the word "unpack"-it is a good one- we use it all the time in my courses/discussions at OSU.

Tom and Amy,

_ have always attempted to be "good neighbors" to the Sycamore Hills community over the twenty years in which we have made this our home. We have both served as trustees of the resident's association, me for one year and _ for about five years. _ additionally published the newsletter and prepared the neighborhood directory for many years. My children walked the neighborhood to hand deliver the newsletters and directories to save the residents' association the postage. We have hosted wine socials, Christmas caroling and other events in our home. I donated the legal work to rewrite the bylaws and restrictive covenants so the annual dues could be increased. _ considered moving about eight years ago to a larger home, but we loved being next to the park so much we instead added a large family room to our house with as many windows as we could to enjoy the view.

With that in mind, I cannot tell you how utterly disappointed I am that the trustees would plan to erect a six foot high, 50' by 50' chain link fence immediately next to my property. I just found out about this a week and a half ago. I reviewed the presentation that you posted on the Sycamore Hills website at that time which further indicated you intended to put a 16' compost pile just below my children's bedroom windows into which you invited the neighbors to dump their kitchen scraps. It indicated you also intended to put a tool shed immediately next to my yard and invited the neighbors to leave their empty milk jugs on site. You intend to build a "structure" of some type with large barrels containing standing water which would breed mosquitos. I cannot believe that you would all plan to do so without giving our family, as well as the other park neighbors, the courtesy of calling us to find out if we would have any objections to this scenario.

I am not sure if you are aware of this, but when my daughter, _ was three years old she was diagnosed with leukemia. She was on chemotherapy and underwent cranial radiation treatments for over two years. Since that time I have refrained from having any non-organic herbicides sprayed on my lawn. My neighbors, the _, have similarly refrained from doing so out of concern for my daughter's health. I do not see any way to monitor the spraying of herbicides, insecticides or pesticides by twenty different individuals in their garden plots and I was/am especially upset when your plans posted as recently as two weeks ago indicated this could be going on right next to my house.

I wondered how you got authority from the City of Columbus to fence in such a large area for the garden. In reviewing the website, it appears the city specifically asked "How much community acceptance/support" there was for the project. I was shocked that the trustees/garden club represented to the city that: "We have 97% support of the garden from the neighborhood." In reviewing the chart on your website, it appears that less than 30 of the approximately 225 Sycamore Hills residents responded that they supported the general concept of a community garden and only 8 of the 225 residents preferred that it be placed in the park. Assuming I am reading those graphs correctly, advising the city that 97% of the 225 households supported a garden in the park in order to get permission from the city was a misrepresentation of which the city ought to be made aware.

Virtually all the neighbors that border the park strongly oppose the placement of a community garden in the park. I say virtually all because there are some that I do not believe are still aware of the plan such as _. _have houses near the park. They have been dedicating their time to cutting the grass in the park using their own mowers in order to keep it nice for the neighborhood. They also strongly oppose a garden in the park and wonder why they were not given the courtesy of a call to discuss these plans with them. I have also spoken with a number of the neighbors in the Wishing Well subdivision who are part of the community that surrounds the park. It appears that no one notified them of any plans to make such a significant change to the use and appearance of the park and I have yet to speak to any of them that support it.

I am going to be out of town this weekend. I will try to attend the trustee meeting Sunday evening if I am able to get back in town in time to discuss these issues. In the meantime, I strongly urge you to abandon any attempt to use the park for this project in its entirety.


Thank you for the email. It is good that people communicate directly about these issues. Your concerns are valid and a number of them are not what is occurring. As an example, like you, the community garden planners are committed to 100% organic and so is the city in their lease agreement.

As email leaves a lot to be desired, I think it is imperative that there is a meeting to clarify what has been proposed. Two of the garden planners and some time will be available during the SHRA meeting Sunday night. Should your schedule not allow you to be there, please advise what times next week are good for you and hopefully our schedules line up and we can work through any remaining issues.

It is important to the garden planners that folks be involved in this process. This is why the garden planners personally went to every resident's home and attempted to discuss the proposal, as well as setting up the blog / website. Also, at every house, printed material encouraging folks to ask questions, share their opinions, and to become involved in this process was left behind. Out of these efforts, suggestions for improvements were made from residents and the plan revised. Hopefully with your input, further improvements can be realized and this community building activity can/will be as successful as we envision and as successful as my community garden experience was in Bend, Oregon and here in other community gardens around Columbus.

Have a safe trip back to Columbus and let me know when we can meet.


A few days ago I spoke with _ about an Association proposal to establish a Sycamore Hills Community Garden at Sycamore Hills Park. Although I doubt our family would take advantage of a Community Garden, we still support the concept none the less. However, from the information Jim provided, it appears the proposed garden site would be right next to the Gallagher house and property. Given the probable negative impact on his property value as well as the equally negative impact on his families summer time quality of life, being in such close proximity to the frequent noise, odors, (and worse) from agricultural chemicals, etc., I would think locating the garden in the back of the park property, (next to the train tracks) would be a far better situation and more fair to the Gallagher family and their immediate neighbors. I do not support the site plan as it now exists, so I encourage you to reconsider and put it in the back of the park.

Thanks for all the Association work you do.

Best Regards,

Hi, _,

Thank you for the feedback regarding the garden location. I've learned that there has been some confusion about the proposed location of the garden, most likely due to an inaccurate image previously provided by the city.

I have attached the corrected image. I believe you will find the location to be acceptable. It is not near the railroad tracks because the garden should be accessible to people of all ages, including those who are less mobile. The location behind the basketball court and trees allows for stroller, wheelchair, etc access via the paved path and basketball court.

Also, I would like to address the additional concerns mentioned in your email. The garden will be organic, so no chemicals will be used. Compost of leaves, plant material, and grass creates only enriched soil, no odor. Noise will be minimal, infrequent, and equivalent to that of a neighbor doing occasional yard work, but the actual location should also alleviate this concern.

I appreciate your thoughts and am glad you brought them into discussion. Please feel free to contact me and/or attend the SHRA or SH Community Garden meetings in the future if you have any other concerns.

Thanks for your email,

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