City makes botanical garden partnership official
Plans for a botanical garden in the eastern half of McIntire Park may move forward now that a nonprofit group has formalized a partnership with the city of Charlottesville. The City Council on Monday adopted a resolution to work with the McIntire Botanical Garden group to redevelop the eastern half of the park.
“We’re delighted to be in partnership with the city of Charlottesville that embodies the work of the McIntire Botanical Garden to help create a green space at McIntire Park,” said Helen Flamini, the group’s president.
City Council adopted a master plan for the eastern half of the park in September 2012 that called for a botanical garden as well as large areas for “passive” recreation. The McIntire Golf Course must close by the end of 2016.
“What the McIntire Botanical Garden [group] brings is a unique mechanism to support the development of the botanical garden,” said City Councilor Kathy Galvin.
The nonprofit and the city will work together to raise funds for the garden, which will be free to the public. The resolution calls on the space to “provide inspirational gardening ideas” which means the group will need to work to encourage horticultural diversity.
The city is also reviewing proposals for a landscape plan for the site, which would provide initial designs for the garden.
“We are not exactly sure what the design costs will be as they depend on multiple factors such as scale, complexity, and required infrastructure,” said Brian Daly, the city’s parks and recreation director.
A memorandum of understanding between the city and McIntire Botanical Garden is expected to be created as the landscape plan for the park is developed. The agreement is slated to address which entity would be responsible for maintenance, would assume risk management for the garden, would build the parking spaces and would hire staff.
The landscape architect is slated to hold at least four public meetings on the plan.
“If everything goes according to plan, we might look toward having a plan to present to City Council for their consideration in the spring,” Flamini said.
While details will remain vague until the landscape plan is developed, councilors are weighing in on what they’d like to see.
“I would like it to be as interactive and accessible as possible, as well as beautiful,” said Councilor Kristin Szakos.
Councilor Dave Norris said the garden’s design will be informed by examples from all over the world.
“I picture the botanical garden as a pleasant place for families and individuals to stroll and enjoy nature, with garden beds that focus on native plants as well as aquatic features, trees, [and] flowers,” Norris said.
Norris said it is his assumption the city will pay for infrastructure such as the parking lot, while the garden amenities would be funded by the McIntire Botanical Garden. So far, the city has budgeted $ million to implement the master plan.
Galvin said the public will have the chance to influence the garden’s scope and features.
“Botanical gardens vary quite a bit, but some common themes are, an emphasis on a wide variety of plant life, community learning opportunities, and intentionally designed spaces,” Galvin said.
Meanwhile, the Piedmont Family YMCA is working to complete financing requirements for the $14.5 million aquatic and fitness center that will operate in the western half of the park. The group had hoped to break ground this spring.