Growing Vegetables on a Salem Street

City Councilors perplexed that residents were allowed to chop up the asphalt on Richard Road to extend their vegetable garden.

How does a Salem street become a private vegetable garden?

That is a question City Councilors are scratching their heads about after Arthur King, a long-time Salem resident who lives on Wall Street, complained that some new resident in a house near his home had chopped
up a portion of the asphalt on the dead-end Richard Road to extend a
vegetable garden. Richard Road is an extension of Ober Road.

According to city solicitor Elizabeth Rennard, Mayor Kimberley Driscoll granted a temporary license for the garden last year to allow the gardeners time to harvest their vegetables.

The temporary license expired at the end of the year. But this spring, the garden is back, King told the councilors. When Salem Patch visited the site, the vegetables seemed to be planted again, across the back of the house, and in what looks like it was part of the one-block-long street.

Several perplexed members of the Committee on Community and Economic
Development wanted to know how a license was granted without approval of the council.

“What is the difference between a license and a lease?” asked Ward 2 Councilor Michael Sosnowski. “I know we (the council) have to approve any lease of city-owned property.”

Rennard explained that a license, in this case, was temporary, as opposed to a lease that was for a longer term.

The committee instructed Rennard to ask City Engineer David Knowlton to measure the width of Richard Road and, if the gardeners are planting on city land, to ask them to stop gardening on Salem city-owned property and restore the property to it original condition.

The councilors were so annoyed that they also instructed the solicitor to assess the gardeners with the cost of doing the survey and the cost of putting the asphalt back.

The committee is planning to hold a broader public hearing on the issue at its next meeting.


john June 14, 2012 at 02:13 PM
I was going to make a corn field at Winter Island but I can't get in because I only pay $4000.00 per year in taxes and refuse to pay for a sticker to enter a city park.
Jack Carver June 14, 2012 at 03:10 PM
Hard to tell by the photos but the street use to go over to those plastic jugs on sticks 24 feet back from the current pavement. Reminds me how when I was a kid you use to be able to drive down Purchase st to Ord st. It was a completely paved st. Some time in the early 1980s a Home owner put a granite block at the end to keep cars from getting on to Ord.
Feral Ginger June 14, 2012 at 03:27 PM
Planting a vegetable garden, awesome. Digging up property that you do not own to plant it, much less awesome.
Salem is my home June 15, 2012 at 02:19 PM
Aren't there already city allotments where these folks could go to grow their garden without encroadhing on public land?
Kathy Karch July 15, 2012 at 11:58 PM
I agree. If you're going to engage in Guerrilla Gardening, you've gotta acknowledge that the whole thing is ultimately temporary and that eventually you're gonna have to dig it all up or step back with some grace and allow it to be dug up by whomever owns the land your "borrowing."


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