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Hindman Discovery Garden still under construction at Stephens Lake Park

Wednesday, May 9, 2012 | 5:03 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — In the southeast corner of Stephens Lake Park lies an open area criss-crossed with gravel trails. Pieces of what will become a "living wall" poke subtly out of the dirt. Boulders form a council ring three feet high. A sign in front of the site labels it "Hindman Discovery Garden."

The garden, which is being developed to honor the contributions former Mayor Hindman and his wife, Axie Hindman, made to Columbia, waits to be completed.

Columbia City Council approved the garden in April 2010 and will still consist of three smaller themed gardens and the Native American-inspired council ring. The garden originally was supposed to be done this spring, but other projects have caused it to be delayed somewhat.

Brett O'Brien, park natural resources supervisor for the Parks and Recreation Department, said work on the garden hasn't ceased, but it has been interwoven into the schedule the department has for other parks projects. The department is doing much of the garden construction in house and is waiting for the right time of year to plant flowers and trees.

"We do most of the construction," O'Brien said. "We did hire a contractor to do some major grading with the bigger blocks, but we're doing most of it."

Much of the hard work that's been done on the garden, including installing underground utilities and irrigation lines, is invisible. Senior Parks Planner Mike Snyder said the public sometimes doesn't realize that work, as well as grading and other earthwork, has to be done.

In 2010, the estimated cost of the Hindman Discovery Garden was $60,000. Since then, the fundraising committee has collected about $81,000 for the project.

"When you have a little extra funding, you can add things like a little more showy flowers," Snyder said. "You can add, like for example, the railing. We spent a little extra money to make it a curved railing instead of just straight sections with angled turns."

Construction will resume in late spring, a few weeks after the school year ends, because some workers are students. Snyder and O'Brien said they expect the garden will be done in time for an Oct. 16 dedication ceremony.

The cost of maintaining the garden will be absorbed by the parks department's horticulture budget.


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