Hyde Park Garden Fair Committee Proposal of July 22, 2003

Nichols home. North End. North End/park planning. New beds during construction. Final Walks, Plaza, Beds.

[This proposal is on the table in complex negotiations with the Park District. As of the end of August, 2003, the sides have agreed in principal that the Garden Fair will, under PD guidance, design, purchase, and plant the beds and the Park District will maintain them. The Garden Fair was preparing to submit its design and planting template to submit to the district. Matters were still creeping along into April 2004, when a final document of agreement was held and the Garden Fair was ready to meet with the contractor and to form a committee of volunteer residents under Bam Postell. GMO]


In view of the soon to be completed redesign of the formal garden area at the north end of Nichols Park, the Hyde Park Garden Fair Committee is writing to reaffirm an formalize our long-standing commitment to the planning, design, purchase, installation and on-going maintenance (at our cost) of plant materials in the nine garden boxes around the ornamental fountain, including the proposed extension of the three east boxes. In addition, (also at our cost), the Garden Fair proposes to add the seven garden sections west of the fountain plaza to our responsibilities, and to furnish the complete planning, design, purchase and installation of all plant materials, as well as oversight of all on-going volunteer and paid maintenance of these. (See attached plan.) We understand that the Park District or the Board of Education will extend the existing automatic water system to the reconfigured east boxes, and will fill the new bed area with “garden grade” soil, not clay. As is the current practice, our oversight will not include the purchase, care of, or replacement of any new or existing trees, nor the maintenance of utilities, fountain and hardscape.

Our commitment to the Nichols Park Formal Garden is outstanding. In 1986, the north end of Nichols Park was city-owned land. Due to community-wide pressure for additional parkland, as demonstrated by the 86% yes vote on an advisory referendum, an ordinance was introduced by the 4th Ward Alderman in 1989 to transfer his land to the Chicago Park District.

A lengthy questionnaire process established that a formal garden maintained by the community was among the first three choices of features Hyde Park area residents wanted in the new park. The Chicago Park District agreed to include a formal garden in the planning only after the community commitment for its care was assured.

Consequently, members of the Hyde Park Garden Fair Committee worked closely with the Park District landscaper assigned to the project on the design principles and plant choices for the four-square design surrounding a central fountain. It was planned as, and continues to be, an adaptation of an English style formal garden.

The Nichols Park Advisory Council applied for and received a grant of $5,000 from the Chicago Community Trust for purchase of the initial plant materials. The Garden Fair Committee coordinated the subsequent planting by community volunteers. Since then the community, led by the Garden Fair Committee working with Nichols Park Advisory Council, has adhered to the original design concept for the formal garden.

Our gardening efforts have resulted in more than 10 awards, including the Chicago Botanic Garden's "Best Flower Garden", the Mayor's Landscape Awards Program (1st place), and the Chicago Park District's certificate of recognition for enhancement of the park.

While individual Garden Fair Committee members have donated their expertise and labor to this garden, the Garden Fair Committee as a whole also continues to support the project with grants for materials and labor. Our source of funding is the two annual fairs we have held in Hyde Park for the last 44 years. In addition, the Garden Fair Committee has coordinated and directed more than 10,000 hours of volunteer time.

The Garden Fair Committee intends to maintain our commitment to a formal garden of the original design principles. Addition of the area to the west of the existing fountain plaza will allow coordination of this design throughout the entire space, which is currently not the case. This division of responsibilities will also greatly simplify the task (and reduce the cost) of the landscape contractor we understand you propose the hire for planting and maintenance of the “welcome” bed in the new double entrance from 53rd Street, the tree box directly south of that, and the plantings around the new Park District/Murray School addition.
We know that the Board of Education landscape contractor is currently working on selection of plant materials for the extension of the east beds, as well as the other landscape materials The Board is responsible for installing as part of their construction contract. We believe it is important to meet with her as soon as possible to coordinate the choice of plant materials in the extended beds. Please let us know whether you wish to arrange such a meeting, or whether you would like us to contact her directly.

Please reply to Mimi Asbury....

Sincerely yours,


Leslie Bloch, Chairman,
Hyde Park Garden fair Committee

Mimi Asbury, Treasurer,
Hyde Park Garden Fair Committee

cc: Alderman Toni Preckwinkle

Chris Gent etc.

Stephanie Franklin, Chairman
Nichols Park Advisory Council

Green- currently done by Garden Fair. Blue- proposed additional responsibility. (Alderman Preckwinkle suggested adding the box at the north end of the plaza south of the entry walk.)
Uncolored- Park District responsibility.

Schematic of the Garden Fair Committee proposal fo the Nichols Park formal garden near 53rd, suggesting what would be GF and what PD/contractor responsibility