Garden idea gets growing

By Andrea Cordle
Southwest Editor

Late in 2019, Grove City Council voted to set aside property in the Town Center for a community park. This decision was made after Grove City resident Gregg Smurthwaite presented council with more than 600 signatures from local citizens in favor of the idea.

According to legislation, the old library site, bounded by Park Street on the north, Arbutus Avenue on the east, Civic Place on the south and First Avenue on the west, shall be preserved for public gathering space.

Volunteers from Hope Gardens saw this as an opportunity.

Hope Gardens started out as a concept six years ago by community members who saw a need for a park that would offer a calm respite in the Town Center. According to the Hope Gardens website, it is a non-profit with a mission to provide a landscape setting where a sense of well being could be restored. It aims to provide a place of relaxation and calm.

Secretary of Hope Gardens Rosemary Barkes attended a recent meeting to make a pitch to city council about using the green space at the former library site for a community garden.

“The natural elements can infuse our mood in a positive and uplifting manner,” said Barkes.

Barkes said she believes this garden concept would fulfill the ordinance passed by council to create a unique community gathering spot in the downtown area. She said it could even host small events featuring low-level acoustic music.

Though the concept for Hope Gardens began several year ago, in 2019 the non-profit group created its board. It includes Thomas Chahine was president, Rebecca Sommer as vice president, Barkes as secretary, Melba Hompertz as treasurer and Bill Ferguson as officer at-large.

“This is a wonderful concept that has come a long way,” said Grove City Mayor Richard “Ike” Stage of the proposal.

Council members liked the idea of a community garden but said the park would be designed with public input.

Barkes said the group would present the plan in more detail to council at a later date.

Hope Gardens is active in the Grove City community. It provides garden workshops, forums, events, plant sales and seasonal events. It is seeking volunteers.

For more information on Hope Gardens, visit

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