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Watauga County Board of Commissioners Tables ‘Mother’s Garden’ Request on County Property

By Jesse Wood

Feb. 6, 2013. The Watauga County Board of Commissioners tabled a request to transform a plot of land in between the Lois E. Harrill Senior Center and the Appalachian District Health Department into a “Mother’s Garden.”

watauga county 1Susan Tumbleston of the ASU-based The Active Choice, said the proposal included a walking track, a fence,  flowers beds, raised vegetable gardens, a horseshoe pit, a natural play area for children and other outdoor recreation options.

Tumbleston said she thought of the idea when she was working at the senior center and saw that the green space wasn’t being used – people weren’t walking around outside. She said she asked around and some of the elderly said, “We are afraid to step in a hole and fall.”

She then began thinking about her own mother, who is an avid gardener – hence the name the “Mother’s Garden.”

Tumbleston wasn’t seeking any funds for the project, which would be funded through donations.

“It’s not going to cost the county a dime,” Tumbleston said, adding that she was seeking an endorsement for project.

County Manager Deron Geouque said the county has had plans for the county-owned land since before the recession, mentioning that for logistical purposes the Watauga County Planning Inspections being next door to the health department is key. A finalized building plan doesn’t exist of yet.

The proposal requested that the county agree to include the garden in any future designs and, if the county were to ever sell the property,  it would provide notice in advance and grant The Active Choice first refusal rights to purchase the property.

This, the commissioners said they would not do.

In a sentiment agreed by all the members of the board, Commissioner David Blust said, “I expect everyone up here thinks it’s a great idea, but we don’t want our hands to be tied down the road.” 

Commissioner Billy Kennedy suggested holding off on making any permanent plans and suggested that any future designs consist of temporary structures that could be removed at little cost, so “feelings are hurt” when the excavators come out. 

Chairman Nathan Miller said, “I am not killing this because I am for it,” and then suggested the following that the commissioners were in agreement with: to table the request and make plans to look at the building plans and visit the site with members of the project to figure out a suitable site that could be designed around the future building.