An Open Letter to Franklin Park Conservatory

To: Franklin Park Conservatory
cc: Scotts Miracle Gro Foundation
Columbus Underground
Franklin Park Neighborhood Association
Dear Franklin Park,

How do you make a beautiful thing turn ugly?  Put a fence around it.

I think it’s fair to assume, when the Scotts Miracle-Gro Foundation contributed the money for Franklin Park Conservatory to build a wonderful new children’s garden, they thought they were contributing something that would benefit the community as a whole.

It seems doubtful that their aim was to provide a new resource solely for wealthy children.  And perhaps that’s not the conservatory’s aim either.  But I hope both they and Scotts are ready for the inevitably forthcoming pictures of poor neighborhood kids with their faces pressed against the black iron bars, gazing enviously in at the luckier kids gamboling happily in the newly fenced-off gardens.

The visual rhetoric of the new garden would have been clear enough on its own, but the conservatory seems to have taken this as an opportunity for an all-out land grab, also fencing in what has been, for a quarter century, apparently without issues, Olde Towne East’s most visible and beloved public artwork, Stephen Canneto’s “NavStar” sculpture, as well as the lovely gardens and pergola surrounding it.

The justification for this mile’s worth of expensive new fencing?  The conservatory apparently needs more money and more visitors.  But if that’s the case, why not reach out to the community instead? You can’t bring people in by fencing them out.

Yours,

Christopher Sunami
Lifelong neighborhood resident

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