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Guardian angels wanted for rundown Botanical Gardens

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The old Department of Parks Headquarters on South Road, Devonshire, whose lower roof has caved in (Photograph supplied)

Piles of trash have grown around the Botanical Gardens for months as Government staff ignored the mess, members of the public have claimed.

A woman who walks her dog through the gardens, who asked not to be named, said two piles of trash had formed on either side of the park, with one in clear view of a busy street.

She added: “As I was walking there on Tuesday I noticed that a big pile of rubbish had collected there, and then further out there was this dirty mattress in the middle of where they were going to put that maintenance yard.

“If you’re walking along Celebration Lane or if you’re in that parking lot you can see it. It looks a bit like a junk yard.”

She added: “I have a friend that lives on the other side of the park and she walks her dog every morning – she says that she sees rats the size of cats.”

The woman was speaking after the Department of Parks asked for public views on the possibility of a Friends of the Botanical Gardens organisation and released a sign-up sheet for anyone interested in joining.

Garbage that has been discarded on the grounds of the Botanical Gardens, which bystanders say is visible to the public (Photograph supplied)

Similar groups are used across the world to provide public gardens with volunteers and funds for training and operations.

The woman said that the trash piles had been in evidence for months and included old portable toilets and several dishwashers.

She added that, she and area residents had complained, but little had been done to fix the problem.

The woman said: “There was a junk pile in the past that somebody called about. It was collected, but that hasn’t happened here.”

She added: “The gates are not locked so other people start using it as a dumping area.

“Once people see a pile of garbage they tend to think ‘oh, I could start dropping off my appliances here’.”

The woman said that the trash piles were in clear view of Botanical Gardens staff.

She added that the neglect problem also included the old Department of Parks headquarters on South Road that had been allowed to “disintegrate”.

National Trust: Parks Department headquarters can be saved

An old mattress discarded on the grounds of the Botanical Gardens (Photograph supplied)

The woman said that the Botanical Gardens should be controlled by the private sector to end the neglect of a national resource.

She added that the state of the grounds had become “depressing” and that she no longer recommended the area to tourists.

The woman said: “Now when tourists go there we’re almost embarrassed to hear them say ‘oh, that was a disappointment’.”

The Friends of the Botanical Gardens group would be a volunteer-led group and tackle areas such as accreditation standards, community engagement and financial strategies.

The Government drew up a pre-management plan for the Botanical Gardens, which pinpointed high-priority problems.

Danny Simmons, a government landscape architect who presented the document last month, said that many parts of the gardens had fallen into disrepair because of neglect, which caused health and safety problems.

Mr Simmons warned the attraction could be lost to future generations if immediate action was not taken.

He added that the Botanical Gardens could be helped with “relatively modest funding” and that the Government may have to partner with the private sector to improve the gardens.

Mr Simmons said that, although management plans for the gardens had to be renewed every ten years, the last plan could not be redrawn in 2014 as scheduled because of a lack of cash.

The Department of Parks did not respond to a request for comment.

Old vehicle parts left discarded on the grounds of Botanical Gardens (Photograph supplied)
The Botanical Gardens (Photograph by Akil Simmons)
The Botanical Gardens (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

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Published December 13, 2021 at 3:52 pm (Updated December 13, 2021 at 3:52 pm)

Guardian angels wanted for rundown Botanical Gardens

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