2015-07-15 / Front Page

Community garden staying on Wilkes Street lot

by Jazz Clark

By a unanimous vote, Town of Bath council moved to keep the community garden by town hall and refuse the offer from Warm Springs Public Service District (WSPSD) to purchase that lot to build an office.

The decision was made at a Tuesday, July 7 meeting of council. Supporters of the garden cheered the decision enthusiastically. Many were from the neighborhood, and take advantage of the garden’s free veggies on a weekly basis.

A main point of contention for whether the garden would stay was soil quality.

While Lee Barron, one of the garden creators, said the soil was very clean and the worms were happy, town officials sought more tangible proof.

The town paid $201 for a soil sample on the lot.

“The numbers were all pretty much normal, nothing really jumped out as dangerous,” said Councilman Andy Swaim. “There was a small amount of diesel, but if we’re being honest, every piece of ground on the U.S. 522 corridor has a little underground diesel.”

He said the soil sample information will be good for the town to have, regardless of what they do with the lot in the future.

Swaim, along with Councilwoman Elizabeth Skinner and Councilman Kenny Easton were chosen to look into the community garden.

“I’m not a soil guy, but I would have no problem continuing the garden,” Swaim said. “I would ask whoever is in charge of the community garden to give council word on intent to either continue or not continue on a regular basis.”

Barron is actively pursuing a grant from the U.S. government, which has funds available for community garden projects. He said multiple people have approached him wanting to donate money. Some are even from out of town, Barron said.

Councilman Rick Weber said he agrees fully with the recommendation, and appreciates the chance to honor their agreement with the garden organizers.

The subject of the public service district’s office space was re-introduced later in the finance section. Swaim said the Warm Springs Public Service District is very likely to drop out as a tenant, which will cause a loss of town revenue. The district pays $9,000 in rent each year for the space.

WSPSD asked to change their yearly lease to a monthto month lease. Swaim said this arrangement works for council too, since it’s hard to get a new tenant if you can’t get the old one out.

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