• Facts behind the zipper garden
    October 22,2013

    Facts behind the zipper garden

    Recently an article was published on a project that I’m working on, the zipper garden. The article was heavy on style and light on substance. I’m writing to provide more information.

    n The zipper garden is a joint landscaping project by SPA and DEW Construction Corp., to be sited in the space between the new Barre City Place structure and SPA.

    n The joint project originated when the permit application submitted by DEW included SPA property as a public walkway to reach the main entrance of their building.

    n SPA submitted testimony to the DRB in September 2012, covering some of the issues relative to the public walkway, including public safety and privacy concerns. SPA received no response from the DRB.

    n Working together, DEW and SPA devised a plan that would provide: a buffer space for the SPA Classroom (some classes use models), protection from winter weather issues (falling ice), and a creative landscape approach for downtown Barre.

    n DEW, using a local landscape firm, developed an Overall Landscape Plan for the space between the two buildings and shared it with officials of the City of Barre.

    n A communications snafu occurred and SPA was not advised about any need to submit an additional permit application for the joint landscape project. In addition, SPA has not received the documentation it has requested that would detail the applicability of current regulations relative to the need for a permit application for this type of project.

    n The joint landscape project involves a sequence of activities in the space between the two buildings; the zipper garden is scheduled to be installed this week.

    While I realize that controversy sells more newspapers, the joint landscape project is an exciting addition to downtown Barre, and deserved a more thoughtful article.

    The reporter met with me and was shown the DEW Overall Landscape Plan for the joint landscape project, including the zipper garden (dated June 11, 2013). The reporter was also reminded about the testimony submitted by SPA to the DRB in September 2012 detailing concerns. The reporter did not describe the regulations for such projects and instead relied on “apples to kiwi fruit” comparisons.

    I’m truly pleased that DEW and SPA came up with a creative response to several challenging issues; moreover, I’m thrilled that we may contribute a new space to replace to the Temporary Sculpture Park that SPA created two years ago.

    Sue Higby

    Barre City

    The writer is the executive director of Studio Place Arts.

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