Green Sanctuary Committee proposes pollinator garden

Local News Oct 9, 2020 in The Marietta Times by Janelle Patterson

Approximately 250 feet of Muskingum River frontage on the western bank is the proposed home of a pollinator planting garden and solar charging bench. (Graphic illustration by Janelle Patterson)

Bees may buzz in the breeze next year on the western bank of the Muskingum River, if a proposed pollinator planting is approved by Marietta officials.

On Wednesday, Rebecca Phillips, representing the Green Sanctuary Committee of the First Unitarian Universalist Society of Marietta, spoke before members of the Lands, Buildings and Parks Committee of Marietta City Council.

She described an opportunity for partnership, to reintroduce native flowering plants to a portion of the western bank of the Muskingum River between the west side boat launch and the Gilman United Methodist Church.

“There’ll be mostly pink and purple in the spring, then a lot of purple, some orange and some white in the summer and it would add so much color to that side of the river,” she described from the eastern bank Wednesday following the formal proposal to council.

Phillips explained that the funds to be used in the proposed garden are from a $7,500 grant awarded by DuPont’s “Clear into the Future” program to promote sustainability in Marietta.

The proposal also includes permission to install a solar charging bench on the city-owned riverbank adjacent to the 500 block of Front Street.

“That seemed like a good space to start the concept of native plantings on our river bank,” she said. “This would really be looking at the slope coming down and then up to the trail.”

While members of the LBP committee praised the proposal’s creativity, one councilmember also pointed to the labor strain such an experiment could solve on the limited staff-to-parkland ratio the city faces.

Councilman Geoff Schenkel said Phillips underplayed the significance the selected area could provide relief for in an already strapped public facilities labor force.

“And this really introduces a different type of flowering plant in an area that already has flowering plants,” he added.

Phillips also explained that the grant funds include hiring a master naturalist or master gardener to design the plantings so that native species with limited need for upkeep over time could be used in the bank.

The proposed area extends approximately 250 by 30 feet, from a mature tree near the old lock master’s house in front of the Gilman United Methodist Church facing the river, to the city launch ramp sign.

What’s next

City Law Director Paul Bertram and Phillips are to determine the extent of city ownership of the green space under discussion before legislation is proposed before council to propose a use agreement.

(Note Rebecca and many members of the Green Sanctuary Committee are members of Mid-Ohio Valley Climate Action.)