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Community garden a growing interest at meeting

Resident expresses concern about recovery center

February 16, 2017
By J.T. Whitehouse , The Town Crier

Austintown Township trustees heard an update and offered suggestions for the proposed Woodside Community Garden at their Monday meeting.

The project is a plan to convert the former Woodside Elementary School property to a community garden throughout the next few years.

Speaking for the project was Austintown resident and volunteer Dale Basista, who presented the first rendering of what the proposed garden might look like. The plan included a mulched trail, a picnic area, fruit tree orchards, raised planting beds and berry patches.

"Our initial plan is to populate the perimeter of the property with wild flowers," Basista said.

He said the wild flowers would add a high degree of beauty to the area while the rest of the project is being planned and executed.

Basista told trustees that Davey Tree Service said it would donate a tree and as much wood chips as needed for the trails. He said the immediate need is for wooden stakes to begin laying out the gardens and paths as well as enough wildflower seeds to plant an acre.

As for being a nonprofit organization, Basista said he has not looked into that aspect yet. Trustee Rick Stauffer said he will approach the Austintown Generational Enrichment Committee about taking this project under its wing.

Trustee Jim Davis added the idea of approaching the Austintown Board of Education about establishing an agriculture class that could help with the gardens.

Basista said a Facebook page has been established for the project under Austintown Woodside Community Gardens.

He finished his presentation by stating the Woodside property is 4.3 acres and if the garden is established, it will be the largest community garden in the United States.

Also addressing the trustees was township resident Lola Simmons, who expressed her concerns about the California Palms Addicition Recovery Campus, the former California Palms Hotel in Austintown, which will become a recovery center that will specialize in substance use treatment and focus on the mental health and recovery of addicts.

She said the concern is for the neighborhood around the facility and the fact it would be a non-lockdown facility.

Stauffer said, "As long as the owners have the zoning in place, they didn't need to come to the township and make a presentation."

Zoning Inspector Darren Crivelli said the property is zoned B-2 and a rehab facility is acceptable use under this type of zoning. Both the police and fire chiefs said they would keep an eye on the property.

"We are not going to ignore the issue," Trustee Ken Carano said. "We will be watching this closely."

Another issue brought up at the meeting involved Armstrong Cable. Resident Rob Stalnacker asked who decides on what cable company delivers cable to the township.

Davis said Armstrong doesn't have a monopoly, but the cost for a different company to come into Austintown would be very high.

Carano said another cable company would first have to get permission from the state of Ohio and then work out a dal with Ohio Edison, which owns the telephone poles. He said by the time a company gets permission, works out a deal to lease the poles and then run miles of cable line, the expense would far out-weight the expected customers.

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