Flagpole recently ran a letter from Willa Fambrough, a vendor at the farmers market on the grounds of the old West Broad School, about the future of the market and the community garden, staffed by students and neighborhood residents, that the Athens Land Trust started there several years ago in partnership with CCSD.
To add some context, CCSD is planning to renovate the long-vacant school and move its headquarters there from Mitchell Bridge Road, pending the sale of that building to nonprofit Advantage Behavioral Health Systems, which means the garden may be paved over.
“We have appreciated the partnership we’ve had with the Clarke County School District, but the school administration is moving forward to rebuild the West Broad site as their new headquarters,” ALT Executive Director Heather Benham said in an email. “Their plans include building a parking lot where the garden is currently located. We have begun to look at other sites in the neighborhood, but unfortunately have yet to find something that will allow for a large garden and have adequate parking for a market. We’re proud of what we’ve accomplished on the site and look forward to continuing to support the neighborhood.”
However, according to ACC Senior Planner Bruce Lonnee, who’s met with CCSD officials on preliminary designs, and Associate Superintendent for District Services Ted Gilbert, the garden isn’t under threat, but it may be moved somewhere else on the property to make way for parking and stormwater facilities.
“We’ve always been committed from the very start to [keeping] the garden on some part of the site there,” Gilbert said.
District officials have already spoken to stakeholders about the plans, and in the coming months, as the plans come into further focus, they will be meeting with those stakeholders and the broader public to collect input, similar to when CCSD renovated the H.T. Edwards building nearby, Gilbert said. “We have architects on board, we’re ready to move forward soon, and we’ll bring everybody in to talk about it,” he said.
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