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City Council Postpones Kingsport Garden Project

At the meeting Monday, the council opted to create a committee made up of community representatives to design a new look for the proposed garden.

The creation of a controversial community garden in Kingsport Park was pushed back a year by the on Monday night.

Alderwoman Sheila Finlayson (D-Ward 4) said she proposed delaying the project after meeting with the Kingsport Community Association

"I’m going to invite two residents from each of the surrounding communities and they will come together over the next year to help design what this park will look like ... so that the community will have more input," Finlayson said.  

At the council's , two Kingsport residents urged the council to delay the project.

"This item—there's a lot of misinformation out there," Margaret Kai-Zeigler said at May's meeting. "The misinformation has caused a real schism in my neighborhood. I have neighbors who won't talk to each other because of this."

Mayor Josh Cohen said he's received a lot of angry emails about the issues, and he found the divisiveness troubling.

"I think the spirit behind this park and the proposed community garden is to bring the community together," Cohen said. "I think this approach that you set forth will go a long way toward building consensus."

Grow Annapolis' executive director Joel Bunker called the outcome a "win-win."

"Our concern all along is that the communities are involved in the conversation," Bunker said.

He said he hopes this change will correct a lot of what he called "misconceptions" that this project was developed behind closed doors with the city of Annapolis.

"The irony is that the compromise was behind closed doors at an HOA meeting in Kingsport," Bunker said. "There are 172 families living in Kingsport. They're residents; their voices are important, but there 308 families living in Bywater Mutual. They were never brought into the conversation."

Finlayson's proposal also delayed the application by the Kingsport community  for a $146,000 grant for the garden project from the Department of Natural Resources until next year. The alderwoman said this was due in large part to the absence of a .

Joel Bunker June 07, 2012 at 07:16 PM
Dear Mr. Mezner: I would be interested in knowing how you support the Slow Food Movement and Neighborhood Gardening? Please be specific. I spoke with Alderwoman Finlayson for the second time today about the meeting, and the Alderwoman confirmed that she had invited members from surrounding communities to the Kingsport HOA and that these same people were in fact barred from the meeting, on grounds that they were not members of Kingsport's HOA. I was also contacted by a resident of Oxford Landing who had questions about the meeting and was one of the people turned away from Kingsport's HOA Meeting with the City of Annapolis. Your comments are libelous and jeopardize the work of many of your fellow community members. These same community members are working to build bridges with their neighbors and provide our community with access to healthy food. Your opinion is valuable, and I ask you to show the same respect that I am offering you. Please cease and desist from further making libelous comments about Grow Annapolis and fellow members of our community. Lastly, Grow Annapolis is pleased with the fact that a committee of community members will be deciding on what this space will look like and hope this will ease concerns about the nature of the project. Respectfully, Joel Bunker Executive Director Grow Annapolis Grow Annapolis is a 501(c)3 organization with a mission to foster and sustain community gardens and urban agriculture programs.
Anna Staver June 07, 2012 at 08:03 PM
Thank you for taking the time to leave such detailed comments on the site. I am working on a story about the proposed community garden that will attempt to separate fact from fiction. Would you be willing to let me interview you about the HOA meeting you said you attended at Kingsport? If so, please email me privately at Anna.Staver@patch.com to setup a time to meet.
Jane Shepard June 07, 2012 at 09:32 PM
Deb, No one is against community gardens; we are very informed as to their function and ideology, and are very aware of the benefits of locally grown and consumed produce. We are against the underhanded and invasive manner in which Grow Annapolis tried to shove these gardens down our throats. The location is totally inappropriate and we have been trying to tell Joel that since first meeting him on April 24th, the first time we heard about the gardens. Joel had already made a nefarious arrangement with Annapolis employees and had the gardens placed in the CIP with no input from anyone in the adjacent communities. He never contacted anyone on the Kingsport board. Any time we tried to voice our opinions, Kingsport residents were called racist, elitist, abusive, and even violent. He has lied about our actions and intentions in order to serve his own purposes and in the process has attempted to tear down the positive relations that we have with our neighbors. I guess that now he will reap the consequences of his actions.
Joel Bunker June 07, 2012 at 10:17 PM
Dear Jane, Grow Annapolis was not involved in the drafting of the CIP and in fact was not aware of the document on the Kingsport Park Project until nearly a year after it was written. The first time I personally saw the document was a few days before we met on April 24th. I came across the document because I couldn't answer questions about many of the sites improvements and had to look it up as a reference. You calling our organization nefarious or criminal does a great disservice to our work throughout the community. I personally invited you to be a part of our community discussion on site. I told you your input was important and you left after offending many present at our community gathering. We are very satisfied with the fact that the community will be dreaming up what this space will look like together, and that there will be representatives from your community, and others in ward 4. Please cease and desist from using libelous language towards our organization and your fellow community members. Respectfully, Joel Bunker Executive Director Grow Annapolis
Todd Mezner June 08, 2012 at 09:31 PM
Mr. Bunker, It appears as if you have deleted the information listed on the causes.com page where Grow Annapolis was asking for donations of up to $30,000. Not to worry, it was expected that you behave this way and a permanent memorialization of that page has been made... for safe keeping of course. Oh, the exact time that you deleted that page, along with the exact time that the page was introduced into this forum as an example of the misinformation that you have been feverishly pushing to citizens and businesses, along with other important data has been collected (and IT IS A LOT) is being organized by date/time/and infraction. Its only right that when this information is delivered to the authorities that it is in an easy to read and reference catalogue. You have also started using the word "libelous" in many of your posts. I encourage you to look up the definition of that word. All information that has been posted has been available publicly, well, until you deleted it that is. I'm assuming your upset because you have been exposed. I'm assuming that the websites that you're so quick to edit/delete are simply evidence that you don't want anyone to look at. Mr. Bunker, you should be running an organization focused on helping people. However, you've taken that great opportunity and that noble cause and turned it into what is clearly a rats nest of coverups, misinformation and lies. Shame on you!

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