Saying that the demonstration rain garden project on the courthouse lawn was put in with no consideration of the hallowed ground of the veteran’s memorial, Don Wilson asked the county board to restore the site to its original condition. Though Commander of the American Legion post, Wilson appeared on his own behalf at Tuesday’s meeting.
The rain garden is situated to collect rain run-off from the courthouse parking lot. The finished project is larger than originally conceived and abuts the veteran’s memorial flag site. The Soil and Water project was meant to be one of two demonstration gardens; it was approved in May of last year and construction was completed in September. Since then, grass has failed to grow on the garden edging, weeds have taken over and plantings have not been made.
The county’s Soil and Water Conservation technician Tristan Beaster told the board he saw three alternatives to mitigate the project. He said one would be to soften the design with plantings such as shrubs or to re-size and re-shape the design to accommodate the memorial. He also said there was a third option.
“The last alternative would be to remove the garden completely,” he said. “That would have consequences, however. One hundred and fifty percent of the cost share money used to build it would have to be returned to the state.”
Beaster said that figure would run the county about $17,000 not counting any restoration costs. The issue of which would be the greater cost – redoing or undoing the garden then dominated much of the remaining discussion. Board Chair Fritz Sobanja was also concerned about the cost of yearly upkeep.
“We could probably have it restored for a couple thousand bucks,” said Sobanja. “I have a Cat and front end loader. I’ll come down here and scoop it out, fill the hole back up and level it out. Anybody got a dump truck?”
Commissioner Jim Johnson expressed a common concern among the commissioners. He said even as a demonstration project, he was not happy with the results and added that ultimately the buck stops with the county board
Commissioner Bob Fenwick suggested considering ways to compromise on the project by having county staff meet with other interested parties to see if there was any way to go forward with a modified project. If not, he said he was fine with eliminating it, but only if the board had the necessary information to maker that decision. Wilson said in his opinion there was only one solution.
“Bottom line. I think it’s time to cut and run,” he said. He agreed with Sobanja that to put more money into the project to fix it was not a good idea. He said what ever it costs, it costs. “I would say agree to make it a nice lawn like it was and be done with it.”
The board will discuss the project and make a decision at their June 22nd meeting.