20-year project completed

Published 3:56 pm Friday, June 9, 2006

By By ANDY HAMILTON / Niles Daily Star
NILES - The sun peaked out at the right moment.
It was Thursday morning just about the time Niles Garden Club president Elva Nugent prepared to address city officials, club members and friends. The crowd was gathered to celebrate the re-dedication of the Welcome to Niles Garden at Donavan Memorial Park.
Nugent said the project came a long way since it was started 20 years ago. And, completing the task took help from a lot of people.
Nugent said plans for the garden were first drawn up in 1985 by Jerry Hunziker. A home and garden tour in 1986 raised money for an irrigation system, and the same year club members installed a lawn around the garden with chunks of sod they hand-cut themselves.
A photo book with images of the garden's progression was available at the re-dedication and showed the transition from a baren lot to a healthy landscape exploding with life.
Former Niles Garden Club member Jean Schultz said the group was awarded second place in a 1986 national Make America Beautiful competition sponsored by Family Circle magazine. Schultz also estimated the total cost of completing the Welcome to Niles Garden project, including services and volunteer hours, to be around $40,000.
Niles City Administrator Terry Eull said the club's passion for the garden was evident by the will of its members to continue with or without help.
Part of the re-dedication also included the presentation of a painting by Claire Hoinville. The Niles artist captured the image of the garden at its peak last June and was on hand Thursday to present the painting to Four Flags Area Chamber of Commerce President and CEO, Ron Sather.
Another special guest present was Barb Brooks, the sister of Donavan F. Smith whom the park is named after. Brooks said she thought her brother would be proud of the effort put forth by everyone involved.
It seems the sun agreed.