By Zoe Schumaker, Friends of Hummingbird Park
It’s a warm, humid day in August, and you’re walking home from the French Broad Chocolate Lounge, licking the last of your ice cream cone. The sun is beating down on you, and as you walk up Starnes, you’re working up quite a thirst. But thankfully Hummingbird Park is just ahead. So you stop for a cool drink, and unexpectedly you meet a friend by the fountain. You chat, her dog poops, and, still talking, you both head for the waste station to grab a…
Whoops, wait, I’m getting ahead of myself. Currently there isn’t even a sign identifying which park you’re in, let alone a water fountain or a waste station! But, we, the Friends of Hummingbird Park, have wonderful plans for this neighborhood jewel. We’re hoping you’ll join us in making it even more of a wonderful place to gather.
How This All Started
Hummingbird Park was once the site of multiple homes dating back to the early 1900s. The homes fell into disrepair and were demolished. The property was donated to the City of Asheville, and in 1996 the City passed a resolution declaring the 0.8 acre parcel a park.
Approximately 3/4 of the park is maintained as an open grass lawn with a couple of mature trees. The remaining quarter—a long vegetated strip bordering the east end of the park (the “Wooded Strip”) – was meant to provide shade, screening, and habitat for wildlife. Unfortunately, English ivy soon choked the trees and poison ivy made venturing in dangerous.
In October of 2016, the City maintenance crew worked on the Wooded Strip — clearing brush, pruning, and culling a couple of dead trees. The newly groomed area got the neighbors talking. Without intervention, it would quickly be overrun with invasive plants, and again become unsightly and unusable. We decided to form the “Friends of Hummingbird Park” to explore options for maintaining and enhancing the Wooded Strip and the park as a whole.
The Partnership Opportunity
As a smaller, less-developed park in a network of over 60 parks, Hummingbird Park is not slated for any City-directed investment. However, we have the opportunity to partner with the City of Asheville to jointly make improvements. The Montford Neighborhood Association can enter into a Memorandum of Understanding, or “MOU,” with the Parks and Recreation Department.
Together, we outline below a shared vision for the park and a phased implementation plan detailing contributions the neighborhood and the City each plan to make. As of right now, the neighborhood group plans to invest in the landscaping and maintain the new plantings, while the City will provide infrastructure and other services to support the neighborhood’s investments.
The Friends of Hummingbird Park aim to make manageable improvements over time so that we have the resources to support our efforts. Additionally, we have developed the following set of guidelines:
a) “Do no harm” by retaining current park functionality and preventing undesirable impacts to adjoining properties.
b) Enhance the beauty of the park.
c) Improve the park’s sustainability by eliminating all invasive species and preserving mature trees and introducing additional native plants and shrubs.
d) Create a more community-accessible and enjoyable space by selectively adding new features.
Our initial planting focus will be in the Wooded Strip. We envision adding native trees, shrubs, and plants to support wildlife. The front portion of the Wooded Strip could include a colorful “Pollinator Garden” and possibly a small community herb garden. The City will install a water source to support us. They may also provide additional upgrades, such as a drinking fountain, a dog waste station, new picnic tables, and new garbage cans.
The Friends of Hummingbird Park will start work on the 3-year plan in August. The draft of the plan will be reviewed and approved by the MNA Board. We hope to have an agreement by the end of September and begin planting in the spring. Initially a three-year plan, it can be renewed on a continuing basis as long as we demonstrate commitment from the community.
Spreading the Word and Building Community
We introduced our project to the larger Montford Community at the MNA Community meeting on April 18th, and since then, the Friends of Hummingbird Park has grown to over 50 households.
Our first community workday was held on June 24. Bob Gale, ecologist from MountainTrue, shared his knowledge of invasive plants, and then we ventured into the park to weed, clip and pull. Seventeen neighbors showed up to participate in this fun, informative, and rewarding event.
We now have a Friends of Hummingbird Park page on the MNA website, www.Montford.org. Here you will find additional information about the features we are considering, as well as a link to a survey to collect neighborhood input. Let us know what you think!
Please sign up for our email mailing list and/or volunteer by contacting Lizzy Gerson, firstname.lastname@example.org.
We hope you’ll join us to beautify Montford by becoming a Friend of Hummingbird Park!