Three current Gainesville City School System board members will join Enota school and community representatives on a committee leading efforts to rebuild Smartville Garden at the new Enota Multiple Intelligences Academy.
Board members Sammy Smith and John Filson will represent the board on the committee, and Delores Diaz will be one of the representatives from the community once she leaves the board at the end of the year. Diaz is not seeking re-election to the board this fall.
Gainesville City School System Superintendent Jeremy Williams asked for volunteers from the board for the committee at its meeting Monday night. He said the committee will also include school administrators and other personnel, School Governance Council members, Parent-Teacher Association members and other residents of the community in addition to Diaz.
“The committee will be charged with coming up with a design and working with the architects and the construction managers to use that space that has been designated at the new Enota to rebuild or build the new Smartville Garden ...” Williams said. “As we start to develop Enota, we want to make sure that the garden we have there also satisfies the expectations of the school system. Our goal is to make sure that the input is there, that the plan is comprehensive and all stakeholders have the opportunity to provide input into that.”
Williams said the committee will have an approximately $70,000 budget.
The garden was a source of controversy as officials were developing plans for the new school. Supporters of the garden sought to keep it preserved as part of the new school during the construction. The board decided last year to go with a plan that would demolish that garden, but replace it with a new garden in the plans for the new school.
Diaz said it was important to her that she be a part of the committee and believes the committee will have a “wide range of people.”
“My reason for volunteering is I wanted to see it through since I was involved in the discussion about the garden last year,” she said. “It was a very contentious situation, and I just wanted to be on the committee because I wanted the community to see those of us who were involved in that discussion on the board were sincere when we said we wanted to build a garden and it would be bigger than the old garden.
“I wanted them to see that we were committed to building the garden and seeing it through. We’ll get that garden built, and it’s going to be beautiful.”
Filson, who represents the Enota area on the board, said he is also committed to making sure “Smartville Garden does remain.”
“What we heard so much of was when Smartville Garden was first built was that it was such a community effort,” he said.
Smith said the board “never abandoned Smartville Garden.”
“Clearly, it’s in the architect’s plans,” Smith said. “So, here’s a chance to launch Smartville 2, and that’s what we’re looking forward to.”
The school is currently under construction and is scheduled to be completed by August 2018. Enota is sharing a campus with Centennial Arts Academy this school year.
“One of the biggest challenges that we face is with the school opening in August is this likely will not be a plan that will ready when the school opens, but possibly later into the fall,” Williams said. “So, we definitely have time on our side right now, but we want to make sure that we have a plan and have explored every angle to use that committee to best serve the Enota community and rebuild Smartville Garden.”