Thursday May 20, 2004
For Immediate Release
For Information Contact:
Jennifer F. Brislin
Patrick H. Neely
Six members of the Louisville Metro Council are leading an effort to restore some funding to the suburban community gardens used by residents in their districts.
Councilmen Stuart Benson, R-20; Robin Engel, R-22; Doug Hawkins, R-25; Hal Heiner, R-19; Bob Henderson, D-14, and James Peden, R-23, will fund an additional $4,800 for the program so residents will continue to receive plants for the community gardens. That appropriation will be approved during the Appropriations Committee meeting at 5 p.m. today.
About 1,000 gardeners – many of whom are senior citizens – use the Blackacre, Smyrna, Seventh Street and Farnsley-Moremen gardens.
Before merger occurred, Brightside ran nine gardens in the urban center of the city, and the county ran four gardens out in the suburban areas. Suburban gardens were started as a senior services program.
As a result of merger, all these gardens now fall under Brightside, which then made some adjustments to the program that many senior citizens were upset with. Those seniors have made dozens of calls to council members, and about 30 attended a council meeting earlier this year. Three of those people signed up to speak in protest of the changes.
The issue: Because of a lack of funding in the overall Metro budget, the following changes were proposed: 1. The fee was doubled from $5 to $10 for the senior citizen plots. 2. The amount of plant starts was reduced, and seeds were offered to supplement. 3. Garden managers would be on site only 10 hours a week instead of 25 hours.
The solution: The third issue was the biggest concern for senior citizens because it greatly reduced the opportunity for seniors to work in the gardens.
Heiner and Benson met with the administration, which increased staff time to 20 hours a week. In addition, Benson’s office is working with Wal-Mart to obtain grants to provide more vegetable plantings for the senior citizens. So far, $500 has been obtained for plants at Blackacre. Benson and Engel will distribute those plants from 9 a.m. to noon May 22 at Blackacre Garden.
The $4,800 from the Neighborhood Development Funds of Benson, Engel, Hawkins, Henderson and Peden will give the gardeners a full supply of plants, which they had before merger. Heiner is designating funds from his district for capital improvements, such as a handicapped ramp at Blackacre Garden.
Stuart Benson (R) 20
Robin Engel (R) 22
Doug Hawkins (R) 25
Hal Heiner (R) 19
Robert Henderson (D) 14
James Peden (R) 23