Resurrecting the historic Smartville Garden at the new Enota Multiple Intelligences Academy in Gainesville will likely occur over multiple phases, according to school officials.
But parents, teachers, administrators and Enota alum, all part of an advisory committee, are now one step closer to choosing a landscape design for the new garden.
“The feedback from the committee will guide the next steps before a final plan is agreed upon,” Gainesville City Schools Superintendent Jeremy Williams said. “We will then place the plan out for bids and likely phase the project in over a period of time yet to be determined.”
The fate of the garden became a source of fierce debate when school officials decided to demolish the old Enota elementary and build a $19 million, state-of-the-art school in its place to meet contemporary needs for students and teachers.
Some wanted to preserve the garden in its entirety, but the board of education decided a new garden with touches of the old was the better route to take.
Board member Sammy Smith said it’s about marrying the past with the future.
The new school will open for classes this coming school year, and the garden remains a source of pride and tradition for many in the community.
Smith said the new garden will include features and elements from the old garden, such as the water tower. And plants that were harvested from the former site and nourished elsewhere while the new school was constructed will be brought back.
New additions are likely to include seating areas for small group learning, Smith said, as well as the planting of vegetables to support any food needs students and their families may have.
The committee will have an approximately $70,000 budget to restore the garden and it plans to meet again in July to formally select the landscape design.
Two proposals were submitted from local architects and one was submitted from a firm in Jefferson, Smith said.
The multi-phase approach to rebuilding the garden is necessary due to some funding constraints, as well as the need to plant during optimum seasons and weather, according to Smith.
“The committee will move forward and keep in the forefront the needs of students,” he added.