Garden donor worries about city’s impact with Walnut Lane deal

By Doug McMurdo • The Times-Independent

I beg your pardon. I never promised you a tea garden.

At least that’s what Jay Nethercott may be thinking. He is worried the city’s work to replace aging sewer lines could damage the Resiliency Hub’s “CommuniTea” Garden at 100 West and Walnut Lane.

Nethercott purchased a lot next to Moab Storage, a business he has owned for about 25 years, and then donated it to the Resiliency Hub more than a year ago. The hub, a nonprofit organization, hosts events at the garden and it has become a gathering place.

He insists the city isn’t listening to his concerns, but city spokesperson Lisa Church said the city has no intention of destroying the garden. He also said he put two conditions on the property when he donated it to Resiliency Hub. “There’s a clause in there that it would remain a garden and in the public domain, forever,” he said.

But while Nethercott is fretting over the potential loss of the garden, Church said the city only intends to remove a sliver of vegetation on the edge of the garden in order to install a 10-foot-wide multiple-use path that will be constructed in the city’s easement, not the garden’s. Church said the primary purpose for all the work on 100 West and its connector streets is to replace sewer lines that are about 60 years old. She said the work project runs from 100 West to 200 South.

Church said the Resiliency Hub planted vegetation in the city’s easement, but that is of little concern to Nethercott. “They have the right, yes,” he said, “but is what they’re doing right?”

City Engineer Chuck Williams, according to Church, said he has had conversations with Nethercott and Jeff Adams, president of the Resiliency Hub. “We’re not taking the garden away,” Williams told Church. “They’ll lose a little vegetation.”

When apprised of the city’s response, Nethercott shifted his concerns to potential flooding. He said the garden, as things stand now, accepts stormwater runoff with no problem, but once the land is covered in concrete, he said there could be widespread flooding. “This is not good planning,” he said. “The tea garden was good planning. We put in thousands of dollars and thousands of hours. They’re just not going to be happy until every square inch of Moab is covered in concrete.”