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Corte Madera Backs Plaza, Not Town Park Garden

Supporters of a community garden must look elsewhere in town after suffering a setback at Town Hall recently.

Corte Madera celebrated Sunday the community effort behind the creation of the new Town Park Plaza. Some residents couldn't hide their disappointment that they couldn't get the same support for a community garden in Town Park.

"Had I known (what would be involved in the process) I would have just stayed home. I do want to congratulate you all on the Plaza Cafe, however. It's wonderful what can happen when people get together," said Mary Warner, who helped lead the community garden group. "I support it and I applaud it. … When we started (the community garden movement), the idea was to bring the community together in a different way, digging in the dirt together."

No one is planting a victory garden, especially not in Corte Madera's Town Park.

The Corte Madera Town Council reluctantly announced at the Oct. 2 meeting that it would direct staff to take no further action toward establishing a community garden in Town Park, a site that had been championed by the garden's supporters for the past three years. The Town Council did offer its support to the group in finding an alternate site.

"I'm disappointed this ended in disappointment on all sides," Corte Madera Vice Mayor Diane Furst said.

Warner told the Town Council that the group simply didn't have any funds to pursue the project any further.

"We don't have a dime," she said.

The community garden group dissolved its 501c3 status, according to Warner, who said essentially that the group would need to the Town or a non-profit group such as the Corte Madera Community Foundation to help pay the costs to get the project off the ground.

"We have decided that our energy is about gone. If the Council decides it wants a community garden at some point, we will support that, but we will not have the liability issue," Warner said. "The funding, we have been stymied from even starting our funding because we didn't have a location. We couldn't collect money from people if we didn't know where it was going to be."

Even Councilman Michael Lappert, among the first to donate money to the garden group, had to agree after hearing that announcement that the Town couldn't pursue a community garden in Town Park. He did hold out hope that the issue could be revisited later on.

"We're done with it. … The only thing we can do is to amend the park plan to include a community garden if in the future someone should come forward with a plan for a garden that would not cost any money to the Town," Lappert said.

"I share the feelings of my fellow council members on this. I really wish we could get this done. I would like to see a community garden. I would like to see multiple community gardens. I would like to see them all over town. There's clearly a demand for it. I think it's something we need. I think it's something that has a lot of community support, but I don't think it's something that has the right location right now. Not only do we not have consensus about a location, we don't have anything close to it. All we have is controversy."

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Peter Chase October 17, 2012 at 02:10 PM
Compared to the Piper Park community garden, I don't think a community garden at CM would fit as well. The garden is something that is really only enjoyed by a very few, with the use of community land. The Town might consider drafting something that would frame the requirements of a community garden to open up the use to more people.
GAFlynn October 17, 2012 at 11:39 PM
I don't know all the details, but find it hard to believe there is no support for a community garden--other towns have waiting lists.
Walter McClellan October 23, 2012 at 02:21 PM
There's plenty of support for a community garden--just not at Town Park. If the group had been willing to consider another site, they'd have had a community garden by now. Fortunately, other local leaders are pursuing the use of the Porter-Cooley site along the Sandra Marker Trail between Tamal Vista and the High Canal for a community garden, and there's a very real possibility it could happen there.

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