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Garden of Hope’ approved

Jeremy Heiman

Pitkin County and the city of Aspen will team up with the local nonprofit group Response to create what’s known as the “Garden of Hope” along the Roaring Fork River.

The County Commissioners agreed Tuesday to the creation of the garden on a small parcel of land located on the Rio Grande Trail, at the entrance to the trail by the Aspen post office. The pocket park is owned by the county but is currently maintained by the city’s Parks Department.

Response is a nonprofit group that provides support, services and shelter to survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. Peg McGavock, executive director of the Aspen-based group, said the park was originally intended to raise awareness of domestic abuse and other violence. Passers-by would be prompted to remember that domestic abuse does occur in our community, she said.

But when the site was chosen, she realized there could be another reason to create the garden.

“It has a double purpose,” she said. “It also is a peaceful place where people can sit and reflect. The existence of the garden will also recognize that there is a healthy level of awareness in our community and among city and county officials, she said.

The garden will incorporate a small flower garden, a large boulder with a plaque and two wooden benches. The plaque will bear the inscription, “Hope is a Working Dream,” McGavock said.

McGavock and Aspen Parks Department staffer Brian Flynn selected the spot based on three criteria: It would provide a quiet place to reflect and relax, it offers good views and it currently has no other dedications or memorials.

“It’s a great spot,” Flynn said. Benches would provide a view of the river in one direction and Red Mountain in the other.

The county commissioners informally approved the request and agreed to provide up to $1,000 from open space funds for flowers and other plantings. Final approval is expected to come at a meeting in March.

Stephen Ellsperman, Aspen’s staff forester, will select the plantings to ensure that no non-native plants are put in, Flynn said. Only a small area in the parcel will be disturbed to create the Garden of Hope. Irrigation is already in place.

In October, Response intends to hold a candlelight vigil at the garden to remember those who have suffered from domestic abuse and other violence, McGavock said.

Response aids women from El Jebel to Aspen. Since its inception in 1983, it has trained more than 800 volunteers to provide support. The program’s services include 24-hour emergency assistance, education and awareness programs and support groups for survivors of abuse and for children who have witnessed domestic violence.

Response has also provided other services, as seminars to help women gain control of their lives through informed money management. The group is known for its annual Chocolate Classic, a fund-raising event with a silent auction at the Hotel Jerome Ballroom.

To find the park, McGavock said, it’s easiest to start from the Art Museum, take the bike path under Mill Street and cross a footbridge. Beyond the footbridge, the parcel is immediately on the left.

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Posted: Thursday, March 1, 2001


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