28 January 2009

Friends of Kenney Cottage Garden

Kenney Cottage (photo: Daniella Thompson, 2004)

Patty Marcks, president of Friends of Kenney Cottage Garden, writes:
The Berkeley Redevelopment Agency is seriously considering a proposal to relocate the historic Kenney Cottage to a city-owned vacant lot at 1631 Fifth Street.

The proposal, of which BAHA is a co-applicant along with Northern California Land Trust (NCLT), also calls for the renovation of the cottage and for a community garden on the site.

Once restored, the cottage would be used for public benefit and activities as yet undetermined. Among the uses proposed are a museum space, art gallery space, space for neighborhood or community gatherings or events, classes, meetings, or office space for a local non-profit organization. It is likely that the cottage would several different uses.

The immediate neighborhood is strongly supportive of this project. The Redevelopment Agency Board (City Council members wearing their other hat) is tentatively scheduled to consider the proposal on 2 June 2009, and perhaps even to vote on it then.

However, it’s been made clear, both by our district City Council member and by the staff of the Redevelopment Agency, that this proposal will have no chance of being approved by the Agency Board unless an organization were to be in place with the capacity to ensure the ongoing viability of the project once it’s been completed. They are concerned about the community garden aspect of the project, as well as operation and maintenance of the cottage and its auxiliary structures (if any).

The City of Berkeley is committed to have nothing further to do with maintaining this property once it’s been transferred to others. It will not provide free water or other free amenities (except for some free compost), as it does with other community gardens in Berkeley. An unfortunate fact, but one we must live with.

This is where the Friends of Kenney Cottage Garden come in. In addition to showing the city that there’s strong neighborhood support for this project, we would demonstrate that a structure and a funding mechanism exist for ensuring the survival of both elements of the project.

Our neighborhood-based members, joined by community experts and supporters, would oversee (or help the new property owner, NCLT oversee) the day-to-day operations of Kenney Cottage & Garden, would employ sufficient persons, whether paid or volunteer, to oversee and manage the garden, to keep the Kenney Cottage clean and maintained, to manage the access to and use of both the cottage and garden facilities, and would raise funds, through a combination of user fees, rental fees for use of the cottage, community donations and grant funding, for the purpose of doing all the aforementioned.

We would love for BAHA members to get on board and support our organization in any way they can. Anyone can be a member of the Friends; all you have to do is e-mail me or call (510) 526-7828.

I invite you to participate in our first fundraising event:

Saturday, 7 Feb. through Tuesday, 10 Feb. 2009
11 am–5 pm
(No Early Birds, please)
The Colors of Love
Valentine’s Day Yard Sale
Benefit Fundraiser for Friends of Kenney Cottage Garden
1629 Fifth Street, Berkeley


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