July 26, 2010 - City of Knoxville Public Service crews are working in Parkridge Park today to make amends after city workers dropped part of a dead tree on top of a small community garden there last week. They also cleaned out concrete planters containing vegetable plants.
The garden had been planted and maintained by children in the neighborhood around the two-acre park off North Bertrand Street.
The city is currently working on moving the remains of several dead trees that were cut down last week, painting over graffiti in the park's gazebo and along its greenway, adding a new trash can and repairing a footbridge among other efforts.
David Brace, deputy director for the city's Public Service Department, said the department will also develop space for a community garden and would install a pair of composting bins at the park.
"This wasn't an intentional action on our part but we are sorry about the damage and we want to do what we can to make things right," he said.
The issue arose last week when horticulture crews went to the park to remove some dead trees and take some limbs off of others to try and give the park a more open feel.
Brace said the move was aimed at improving the park's aesthetics and removing some shadowy sections at one end of the park to discourage drinking and other illegal activities from occurring there.
"Our arborist identified some dead and dying trees and the back of the park was in shadows and we wanted to open it up," Brace said.
The crew was also there to clean out the concrete planters in preparation for planting perennials in those.
City workers were not aware of the existence of the small garden or of the vegetables in the planters though, City Rangers, the organization supporting the garden had submitted an adopt-a-park form to the city. No action, however, had been taken on that request.
Brace said the horticulture crew was trying to avoid dropping the dead tree into a ditch and part it landed on one end of the garden damaging a small section of it. The crew also contacted a supervisor about the planters and the supervisor – unaware of the community garden effort - told them to go ahead and clean them out.
"We were over here trying to do good work," though clearly the results have made a lot of people unhappy and the city regrets this, Brace said.
"We're very supportive of community gardens in the city, I wished this hadn't occurred and I'm sorry that it did," Brace said. "What we're trying to do is make things as right as we can."