A group of students held a public hearing yesterday to discuss the use of a grassy field behind the Peter Stott Center. The purpose of the hearing was to address the wants of the community and to raise other ideas surrounding the issue.
Two of the hearing’s organizers, Justin Myersand Maude Bowman, with PSU facilities member Burt Ewart suggested that the hearing be a way for students to propose and discuss various ideas for the space.
The Student Garden Community (SGC) has proposed using the existing space to expand on the current garden, though Myers clarified, “Today we will not be planning a community garden.”
Since the founding of the student community gardens in 1993, the land has grown from about 15 plots to 58 plots which is its maximum capacity. The garden sits on one tenth of an acre, where as the grassy field is approximately one third of an acre. Currently, the garden is only open to on-campus students and faculty. With the expansion, it would be possible to extend the use of the land to all interessted students and staff members.
There are many other different ideas for the use of the land, including a BBQ picnic space, fitness and stretching facility, 40 foot putting green and an expansion of the community garden. The space already contains a putting green, and in the past was used by many people of the community. Due to budget cuts, PSU was unable to maintain the green and was forced to not only stop maintenance, but also sell all the maintenance equipment. Myers mentioned an e-mail from a member of the golf club who complained of the current putting green’s condition, being littered with beer cans.
Staff members at the Stott Center raised some concerns. The field in question is located adjacent to the center and has been and is continuing to be used for part of a summer sports program for youth. Randy Miller, an advocate for the re-implication of the putting green and a coordinator for the Stott center, stated, “It is a question of accessibility.” Using the land across the street from Stott center would create an easier way to expand classes and programs outside of the center.
Other concerns on the point of a community garden were raised, such as the vandalism rate or amount of desecration that could be inflicted by homeless people or other members of the community. The field sits right next to the freeway where homeless people commonly reside. Some students are wondering if their crops are going to turn into other’s dinners.
In rebut, Bowman stated that in the past they have had no problems with theft or vandalism and do not foresee it to be an issue.
“This is about a lot more than just a garden,” Nathan Hodges, an interested student, added. “It’s about our values that we promote on campus.”
While the interest matrix posted at the hearing revealed the majority of people were in favor of the expansion of the garden, negotiations are still being made to see if there is a way to accommodate all parties’ needs and wants.
“This land has so much opportunity,” Bowman said, “just not enough effort and we all need to do our part in creating more community space.”