Landmark Unveiling Ceremony
June 19, 2010

Visitors to the garden are now made aware of what gardeners have known for almost 100 years. Ben Franklin Garden is a jewel in Old Brooklyn. And it finally has the “bling” to prove it.

On Saturday June 19th, 2010 about 50 people gathered at the Garden to unveil the Landmark plaque. They were treated to several speeches about the history of the Garden, the ramifications of being a Landmark, and the importance of community gardens today.

Committee member Mark Tapajna served as the master of ceremonies. Retired Reverend Neal Wilds, a current gardener, opened the ceremony with a brief blessing.

Speakers included:
Lynea Derwis, vice president of the Board of Directors of Old Brooklyn Development Corp. (OBCDC)
Jennifer Coleman, chair of Cleveland’s Landmarks Commission
Lynette Filips, a member of the Historical Society of Old Brooklyn
Marie Barni, county director for Cuyahoga County Extension
John Jenkins, chair of the garden’s Operating Committee
Former Councilwoman Merle R. Gordon

Councilman Anthony Brancatelli served as the Keynote speaker. He announced that he had introduced legislation to zone the property as a garden district. (See Ord. No. 825-10, City Record [pdf].) The announcement drew a loud round of applause from the audience. He also recognized John Jenkins as a “tireless advocate for the Garden” and Tom Sargent as a “non-stop Garden coordinator”. And he threw down a gauntlet of sorts by urging the Garden to “three-peat’ its award of Best Community Garden at the Cuyahoga County Fair.

The plague was officially unveiled by Merle Gordon and Sue Alexander. During her time of service as Councilwoman Merle Gordon completed the necessary process to obtain the Landmark status for the garden. Sue Alexander, a former gardener, was the kind benefactor of the funds to purchase the Landmark plague. Both women lifted the tarp and exposed the monument.

The plague is countersunk into a granite “slant”. The slant was donated to the garden by Kotecki Family Memorials. Along with the donation of the monument they included the delivery and placement of the monument. Their generosity helped make the event possible and is much appreciated.

Bill Smith, a former committee member, designed and constructed the frame which the Landmark rests within. River rock and red begonias finish off the display and pay tribute to the monument.

After the speeches were concluded and the monument was unveiled attendees were treated to baked goods that were provided by volunteer gardeners and a cake decorated with a reproduction of the Landmark.

The event went off without a hitch. The weather co-operated. The wind blew (and blew and blew) but there was no rain. And after a while the sun came out.

The event was a success due in no small part to the army of volunteers that helped setup, bake, tear down, etc. A HUGE congratulation goes out to Hallie Forcino who as head of the Preservation Sub-committee bore the lion’s share of work in organizing the event. She did a fabulous job.

See also the front page article in the July issue of the Old Brooklyn News.

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