The Gainesville City Schools Board of Education this week signed off on a project to resurrect the historic Smartville Garden at the new Enota Multiple Intelligences Academy.
Adrian Niles, chief operations officer, said he expects to break ground on the project within the next month and finish this spring.
“That’s our goal,” he added.
Ryan Thompson, a member of the Gainesville Planning and Appeals Board, chaired a “garden committee” to review and determine how the project should be designed and at what cost.
Thompson had a few vested interests in the project.
First, he has two children attending Enota. Secondly, he is the co-founder of Pro Touch Landscapes in Gainesville, so he knows a thing or two about landscape design and architecture.
“I’ve been in this business for a long time, too,” Thompson said, adding that the garden committee had three “talented” firms design projects for consideration.
Thompson said that members of the committee, which included parents, teachers, administrators and Enota alumni, liked aspects from all three and asked the firms to work together to incorporate the best aspects of each design.
“It was good for the school, good for (the architects), good for everyone,” Thompson said.
The win-win scenario retains some of the traditional aspects of the original Smartville, such as the water tower, which was demolished to make way for the new $19 million, state-of-the-art school that opened this fall.
And plants that were harvested from the former site and nourished elsewhere while the new school was constructed will be brought back.
Thompson said that while the garden committee had to consider budget parameters, he feels good about providing new additions for group learning, such as instructional and outdoor dining areas for students and parents; as well as raised planter boxes so that students can learn to grow and harvest what they eat.
An archway will also be constructed leading from the school into the garden.
Gainesville City Schools will contract with Tri Scapes Inc. of Cumming for the approximately $133,000 project.
The Board of Education also approved spending about $24,000 to construct two outdoor basketball courts (non-regulation size), with plans to contract with Cornerstone Foundations and Concrete Inc. of Gainesville on that project.
Superintendent Jeremy Williams said students and parents wanted more play areas within the garden, which is why the courts are being added.
Funding for both projects comes from special purpose local option sales tax revenue.
“I’m really delighted at the opportunity we’ve had to work with the garden committee,” Enota Principal Wesley Roach said. “I think everyone is going to be real pleased with what they’ve come up with. So, we’re very excited.”