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Archives for November 25, 2015

All eyes on Bainbridge – Ft. Bragg Advocate

Council member Doug Hammerstrom places one of his dots during the workshop.
Kelci Parks — Advocate photo

The city hosted a Bainbridge Park Master Plan community workshop last week to collect community input regarding the rehabilitation of Bainbridge Park.

Those in attendance received a quick walking tour of the area then discussed existing and potential facilities.

One area that wasn’t up for debate was Wiggly Giggly park, the playground on the Northwest corner of Bainbridge. It was obvious that the community takes great pride in the playground. Other than a broken latch and a clinking gate, those in attendance only had good things to say and struggled to come up with anything to improve. Everyone agreed on the importance of ongoing maintenance to keep the playground just the way it is.

“One thing we have noticed is that there are always people there, always,” said Associate Planner Scott Perkins. “It’s very well used.”

As each idea came up, Perkins wrote them on boards with corresponding categories. There were some strong feelings about the tennis courts. A large segment of the crowd was comprised of tennis players who were very interested in keeping the facility for tennis only, as opposed to turning the court into a multi-use space for soccer and other sports.

The expansion of the basketball courts was discussed, in order to get them closer to regulation size. The city is already in the process of lowering the lights and adjusting the wattage to provide better lighting on the court and less spill into neighboring residences.

There was strong support for a Petanque court at Bainbridge, considering plans to do away with the court next to the C.V. Starr Center.

Public art, a community garden, fencing, a rehabilitated volleyball court, drought resistant landscaping and regulatory signage were also discussed.

When finished brainstorming ideas, those in attendance could show which projects they liked and disliked the most by placing a green (like) sticker or orange (dislike) sticker next to the project. This gave city staff an idea of how strongly the community felt about individual proposals.

Next, attendees were split into small groups and asked to sketch possible park layouts on large maps. The ideas will be incorporated throughout the planning process.

Improvements will be funded through Community Development Block Grant program income, although the exact amount that will be available is not available yet.

Initial ideas will be presented to the Fort Bragg City Council at their upcoming meeting. Further input from the community will be collected at subsequent council meetings.

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Beachwood may name neighborhoods, make main roads narrower: 7 ideas for the future

BEACHWOOD, Ohio — The city will consider establishing a town center around City Hall and the outdoor pool on Fairmount Boulevard that might include open space, a gazebo with seating for outdoor concerts and a fountain.

The city may also narrow Chagrin Boulevard and Richmond Road — while not necessarily reducing the number of lanes — to provide room for cyclists and make conditions safer for pedestrians. A citywide network of bike paths is also a possibility.

The suggestions are part of a five-year master plan unveiled Monday.

Beachwood is paying the Cuyahoga County Planning Commission $60,000 to come up with the plan, with help from city officials, including Economic Development Director Jim Doutt. Residents and businesses also contributed through two citywide surveys, which council reviewed in May.

Beachwood residents, businesses like city but see room for improvement, survey says

See the entire master plan draft, and the PowerPoint presented to Beachwood council Monday night, below.

The master plan, among other recommendations, calls for:

Creating two mixed-use districts. They would consist of offices, commercial businesses and some residences along Chagrin toward Shaker Heights, and on Commerce Park. In a recent survey of Beachwood residents, 53 percent of respondents asked for mixed-use, walkable developments. 

Transforming two residential areas. The Richmond Road and Chagrin Boulevard-South Green Road corridors would switch from single-family to multi-family districts, possibly with townhouses and apartments. Planner Patrick Hewitt of the county planning commission said denser housing is more appropriate for Richmond because the road has widened and drawn increased traffic over the years. Multi-family housing would reduce the number of driveways off Richmond, making traffic more manageable.

Creating a detailed plan for Chagrin Highlands. The city would work in cooperation with the city of Cleveland and landowner-developer Richard E. Jacobs Group. Future development would be more environmentally friendly — since the environment overall was identified as a priority in both the residents’ and business surveys — and might include linear parks along streams.

Naming neighborhoods. The idea is to give neighborhoods a sense of place and identity. Also, the city would design unique street lights for neighborhoods.

Enhance Beachwood’s gateways. Improvements might include specially designed lampposts, signs and fences, along with all-purpose trails, trees and landscaping.

“I was absolutely blown away by this,” said Councilman Martin Horwitz, adding that he read the entire 156-page master plan report. “I think this is the blueprint for the next four-five years.”

James Sonnhalter, the planning commission’s manager of planning services, said the next step is scheduling a community open house where residents can see each aspect of the master plan and interact with those who designed it. Then the master plan team will revise the plan and present the final draft to council.

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Retreat Farm to change hands again

Click photo to enlarge

BRATTLEBORO GT;GT; For over a year, Arthur “Buzz” Schmidt and Lu Neuse looked at how to approach the future of Retreat Farm. And they have a few ideas in mind.

“We have a world-class assembly of historic buildings here,” said Schmidt. “We have these hundreds of acres of undeveloped property that are either in ancient forests with fabulous and historically significant trails running through them or really wonderful farmland cultivated for at least a hundred years. And you look across the street and it’s the Retreat Meadows, a very important recreation venue for Brattleboro and Windham County as well as an important source of habitat.”

According to Neuse, buildings on site are being cleaned up while removal of evasive species has begun to take place.

Liz Bankowski told the Reformer she was trying to recruit Schmidt for the Windham Foundation board, which she chairs. But the board is now collaborating with Schmidt, who has formed a nonprofit called Retreat Farm LTD to address the farm’s future. His family moved to Guilford when he was 13 then he went to college and moved away. He recently returned to the area.

Schmidt is chairman of a New York City-based nonprofit Heron Foundation, which addresses poverty in the United States. According to Heron’s website, Schmidt was named U.S. Nonprofit Executive of the Year by the Nonprofit Times in 1999; one of six visionary leaders in philanthropy by Time Magazine in 2001; and one of 25 people who had the most influence on shaping the nonprofit sector over the past 25 years by the Nonprofit Times in 2012. He also serves on boards for the Permanent Fund for Vermont’s Children and the Vermont Council on Rural Development.

Previously, the farm was part of the Brattleboro Retreat and food eaten at the facility was grown there.

“It was pigs and cows and potatoes and dairy and apples,” said Bankowski. “But things changed and the farm was less relevant to the Retreat’s work. Then things really changed with how mental health is paid for, which put the Retreat in the situation that it had to relinquish the farm. There was no way the Retreat could continue to justify having to subsidize a dairy herd while everything else was being so challenged around their business model.”

As a “gateway farm,” said Bankowski, referring to its spot where Linden Road turns into Route 30 and its proximity to downtown Brattleboro, various groups came together to find a way to preserve it. Community members along with representatives from the Retreat, Trust for Historic Preservation, Housing Conservation Trust Fund and Vermont Land Trust decided the farm should be transferred to the ownership of the Windham Foundation in 2001. Looking to expand Grafton Cheese Company’s product line, a facility and store was built by the foundation on the property.

Schmidt was also seeking Bankowski out as he prepared to dedicate himself to rural development projects. He said their goals for building a healthy, sustainable, landscape sensitive rural Vermont were “congruent.”

“The ideas we’re developing and planning to pursue could have been straight out of the Windham Foundation playbook,” he added. “It’s just a very happy continuum here.”

First and foremost, Schmidt wants to ensure the property is stabilized then preserved. But how that will be done economically is another piece of the puzzle.

“We’ve been exploring what that system would look like. We think we have some really good ideas,” said Schmidt. “We think of the property ultimately as a set of platforms that will support different kinds of activity by individuals, institutions and enterprises that have the long term health of the community at the forefront of their own objectives.”

Those platforms could involve education, recreation, non-profit groups, and food and farm systems. Schmidt said the plan is still evolving and permits are necessary. A subdivision of land between the farm and the cheese company will be required. Any uses of the properties changed in the planned unit development will need approval from the Vermont Land Trust, which holds an easement, while the Preservation Trust has to approve renovations to buildings on the property and any further construction of buildings.

Schmidt said the Windham Foundation will need to jump over “some hurdles” administratively before handing the farm over to his new nonprofit. He is awaiting approval from the Internal Revenue Service on an application for tax exemption.

“We’re all very enthusiastic about it but we’re hesitant today to promise too much because there’s still some possibility that there may be impediments that will keep us from following through,” said Schmidt. “But we think it’s good and there’s a high probability it’s all going to happen. We think it should work itself out.”

Those involved in the project see it as a phased project. The main challenge will be in preserving historic architecture found on the land.

Renovation has begun on the white farmhouse, where meetings on the project are taking place. New floors were put in. Landscaping on “the square,” located between the farmhouse and other buildings, is expected to be completed early next year.

In a couple of years, Schmidt hopes to see “very significant activity” on the property with all buildings fully populated within 10 years.

“Meanwhile, we have a number of discrete farm parcels that are part of the property and we’ll be working with state agricultural experts to develop that program as well,” said Schmidt. “They’re cultivating and harvesting corn and hay today to support local dairy operations. That may evolve into discrete farmer holdings.”

Groups discussing potential plans with Schmidt include the Retreat, Harris Hill Ski Jump and downtown merchants.

“We’ve just started to brainstorm transportation issues,” said Bob Allen, president of the Windham Foundation. “But there’s no doubt this will draw more people to the area,”

Schmidt, interested in hearing people’s ideas, said he would like to hear their dreams for the property. A website with contact information can be found at

“We’ve all driven by here our whole lives, have seen this and said, ‘If I could just do this and this there.’ But it’s a dream. So we’re very open to visitors,” Schmidt said. “If people have an enterprise idea in context of these buildings, come and talk to us.”

Contact Chris Mays at or 802-254-2311, ext. 273.

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Stone Garden moves to new Market Street location

Stone Garden’s move from one part of Market Street to another grew out of a much lengthier journey.

A fixture at 6955 Market St. for 16 years, the business, which sells natural and cultured stones for landscaping and gardens, is opening Dec. 1 at its new location, 5726 Market St. 

“I was extremely fortunate in finding what I needed — a building, a warehouse, acreage and something for lease. And just two miles away from my current location,” said Stone Garden owner Nina Brown, who had to move her business as a result of the Military Cutoff extension project the N.C. Department of Transportation is currently working on. “That’s pretty much a miracle.”

Brown said she could have moved out of the city where rents might have been cheaper, to somewhere like Hampstead. “But to me, it wasn’t worth it,” she said, because she wanted to continue to be in a convenient location for customers.

On one portion of the property, customers will be able to browse through a garden that showcases outdoor living spaces, entered through a dry-stack archway using 24 tons of stone that is currently under construction by Doug McGraw of McGraw Hardscapes.

The garden, which is being designed by landscape designer Tracy McCullen, will also be used as an event space, something Brown said she is particularly excited about. 

“We’ve already had wedding photographers approach us” about using the garden, Brown said.

She said Drew Thorndyke of Cape Fear Water Gardens will install a pondless waterfall next month, and mason Mike Gray of Graystone Inc. has completed all of the store’s interior stonework.

“The ultimate goal of the move is to create a display space worthy of the products Stone Garden specializes in, including fountains, outdoor kitchens and fireplaces, garden art, mulch and soils, and a myriad of pathways and patios,” Brown said in a news release about the move.

A moving sale is underway at Stone Garden’s current location to help lighten Brown’s load, literally, she said, because the store usually stocks about 900 pallets of stone weighing between 1,000 and 5,000 tons each.

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25 Best Plants to Grow in the Veggie Garden

8. Popcorn. If I could grow only one kind of corn, it would be popcorn, which is particularly suited to home-scale gardening. There are many dwarf varieties, and many that yield well. And popcorn can be ground for flour (it is a bit of work, though, since it is very hard), or popped for food. My kids like popcorn as breakfast cereal, or, of course, as a snack. Popcorn yields quite well for me in raised beds, and is always a treat at my house. It has all the merits of a whole grain, but is “accessible” to people not accustomed to eating brown rice or whole wheat — a great way to transition to a whole-food diet.

9. Kidney beans. While kidneys have less protein than soybeans, they are very close to soy in total protein and yield more per acre. There are a number of pole-variety kidney beans that are suitable to “three sisters” polyculture as well, so you can grow the two together. If I could grow only one dry bean (I usually grow ten or more), it would probably be a kidney variety.

10. Rhubarb. Why rhubarb? Because once established, it will tolerate almost any growing condition, including part shade (most vegetables won’t), wet soil and you jumping up and down on it to try to get it out. Rhubarb is tireless. It is also delicious, though it does require a fair bit of sweetener (stevia, apple juice or pureed cooked beets will do if you are avoiding sugar). We like it cooked to tart-sweet for a few minutes with just a little almond extract. But its great value is that it provides fresh, nutritious, “fruity” tasting food as early as April here, right when we are desperate for something, anything, but dandelions and lettuce, and goes on as late as July, happily producing spear after spear of calcium-rich, tasty food. I’m in the process of converting the north side of my house to a vast rhubarb plantation (OK, not that vast), because we can never get enough of it.

11. Turnips. Let’s say you live in an apartment and want greens all winter but don’t have even a south-facing windowsill available. What can you do? Well, you can buy a bag of turnips from your farmer’s market. Eat some of them raw, enjoying the delicious sweet crispness of them. Shredded, they are a wonderful salad vegetable. Cook some, and mash them or roast them crisp. And take a few  of the smaller turnips, put them in a pot with some dirt on it and stick them in a corner — east- or west-facing is best, but even north- will work. And miraculously, using only their stored energy, the pots will go on producing delicious, nutritious turnip greens even in insufficient light. It is magic. If you do have a south-facing windowsill, save it for the herbs and put your potted turnips on the other sills.

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Hinsdale mansion on market for $4.75 million

A five-bedroom, 10,830-square-foot French country-style mansion in Hinsdale came on the market Friday for $4.75 million.

Built in 2004 and situated on a little over an acre, the three-story mansion has four full baths, three half baths, nine fireplaces, laundry rooms on the first and second floors, radiant heat flooring, a finished lower level with a fireplace, Holly Hunt light fixtures, an elevator, hand-scraped and waxed walnut floors and a kitchen with stainless steel Viking and Sub-Zero appliances, Patrick Sullivan cabinets and granite countertops.

Outside, the property has a heated driveway and front walkway, a dog run, a bluestone patio with radiant heat, a gas fireplace with a built-in grill, and professionally designed gardens and landscaping.

“The level of finishes are that of a $10 million-plus home,” said listing agent Michael LaFido of Conlon. “It would be hard for the discerning buyer not to appreciate the grandiose curb appeal.”

Earlier this year, the mansion had been on the market with a different listing agent for $4.799 million.

Bob Goldsborough is a freelance reporter.

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Notes From the Garden: Gifts for the Gardeners in Your Life

It’s that time of year again. Time to think about buying gifts for our loved ones. For gardeners there are so many things, selecting something is easy, from under $10 to over $500. Let me play Santa, offering you ideas to choose from, or things to avoid.

Let’s start with a major no-no: Unless your sweetie has asked for more houseplants, don’t buy houseplants. The only exception to that might be an orchid in bloom, if she can consider it like cut flowers and jettison it after it finishes blooming. But in general, houseplants are work, and require space on a windowsill. Likewise, avoid buying a do-it-yourself beehive kit or an earthworm farm for digesting the leftover lettuce that would otherwise go in the compost.

On the other hand, a truckload of good compost would be welcomed by almost any gardener. Just don’t have Santa deliver it on the driveway. Santa has to deliver to the garden, or near the garden. Composted barn scrapings are sold by most dairy farmers and garden centers, and by some lawn maintenance companies. Ask for “hot composted manure” or aged barn scrapings. The hot composted stuff should not have any viable weed seeds.

Garden gloves are good gifts. These range in price from $6.95 to $24.95. Nowadays you can even get them in pink. I like the stretchy gloves impregnated with latex on the palms, but not on the backs, so hands can breathe.

Last summer, I got a set of deer-repelling blinking lights. Quite innovative. They are solar powered, and emit a red LED light all night that scares deer or other pests. It is called Nite-Guard Solar ( You need at least four of them, so that one is facing each direction around the garden at eye-height of the deer or raccoon. In my limited use, they seem to be a big help. Of course, with heavy deer pressure, only an 8-foot fence is 100 percent effective.

Speaking of deer, another problem they present is Lyme disease, carried by ticks that deer and mice carry. There is a gaiter available that is impregnated with permethrin. These gaiters wrap around your pants to prevent ticks from getting to you — and to kill them if they try to attach to your pant legs. If you have a lots of ticks, these may be a great help. Available online at This is a new version of one that I tried earlier, and the manufacturer assures me it will be ready for shipment by Dec. 19.

I’m not, in general, a big fan of rototillers, but was given a little one to try out last spring. It’s called the Mantis tiller ( It weighs only 24 pounds and digs down to a maximum of 10 inches. I used it for working compost into the top 6 inches of my vegetable garden and found that it did a good job. It starts easily and runs well.

My basic complaint with large tillers is that they can go down 18 inches or so, moving microorganisms from one soil depth to another. This little guy is less likely to do that. Big ones can also damage soil structure, particularly if wet.

This summer I got a sauerkraut crock from Gardeners Supply ( and like it a lot. Mine has a 1.3 gallon capacity, and comes with a kit that includes weights to keep the kraut submerged. It has a water-sealed air lock for the cover which allows the gases to be vented, but no extraneous airborne yeasts or bacteria to enter it.

Every year I mention my favorite weeding tool, the Cobrahead Weeder ( It is available everywhere now because it really works: like a single steel finger, it can tease out long grass roots, prepare a place for a tomato seedling, or get under a big weed, allowing you to pull from above and below. If a gardener on your list doesn’t have one, get one, and he or she will think of your gift all summer long.

Books are always good gifts. I recently got a copy of a nice book by Vermont garden designer and author Gordon Hayward and his wife Mary called Tending Your Garden: A Year-Round Guide to Garden Maintenance. Hayward is a hands-on guy who knows a lot, and the book is full of lovely photos and sensible ideas. I also love his book, Stone in the Garden. In fact, I like all his books.

Forest Trees of Vermont by Trevor Evans is one of the nicest guides to trees I have seen. Great photos, easy to use, it even comes with a little ruler for measuring leaves. Applicable anywhere in the Northeast. Available from Forestry Press,

In general, if you like an author, any book by the same author will be good. Thus you could look for books by Michael Dirr (trees, shrubs), Barbara Damroch (general gardening), Ed Smith (vegetables) or Sydney Eddison (flowers and design). My own books are available, too. They cover just about everything, but with an organic bias. My New Hampshire Gardener’s Companion came out in an updated second edition this year and is relevant anywhere in New England.

Lastly, if you really don’t know what to get or are too busy to find something good, get a gift certificate to a local, family-owned garden center and let the recipient pick a gift. Every serious gardener lusts after new perennials and shrubs, so why not facilitate the process? And the garden centers would be happy for your business at this, a slow time of year.

Henry Homeyer’s website is Send questions to him at

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