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When the Salmon City Council voted at its July 1 meeting to terminate the City Park Memorial Rose Garden the decision proved hurtful to many city and county residents.

The garden has always been under the care and feeding of the Garden Club. Members of the club are no longer physically able to do the work and last year asked the city to have city crews assume the duties. The city agreed, then earlier this month made the controversial decision to do away with the garden.

After hearing statements from those against removal of the Rose Garden the council voted on Councilman Fred Waidely’s motion to rescind the decision to abandon the garden and delay any further action for one year. The vote was not unanimous. Councilmen Jim Bockelman, Ken Hill, Fred Waidely and Russ Chinske voted in favor of the motion to rescind the previous decision. Councilmen Jim Baker and Rob Jackson voted against it.

The topic was discussed several times during the July 15 council meeting beginning with a plea from Garden Club member Sue Waidely who felt the council did not represent the citizens of the city or Lemhi County when it made its decision to remove the garden. She said the memorial garden is a peaceful place to remember all who have died in the valley and to watch youngsters playing in the city swimming pool. She asked that the July 1 decision be rescinded and not readdressed for five years.

Fellow Garden Club member Fran Wyland quoted Councilman Chinske as saying, in regard to the tennis courts, “If it’s there and exists we should take care of it.” The courts are being resurfaced. Wyland maintained the Rose Garden has existed for 17 years and sure wouldn’t cost as much to take care of as the tennis courts. She said, “Gentlemen, it is a memorial. A memorial is something that keeps remembrance alive. No one has any business destroying a memorial”

Both women referred to plans already in place to downsize the garden into its center area and both urged the council to let the memorial benches remain where they are for citizens and tourists to enjoy.

Councilman Waidely said he has heard from many people, including his wife Sue, over the past two weeks who are upset over the council’s decision to remove the garden. He said he felt the council acted in haste and without public input. He said the garden represents generations of families and is a place of closure for many. Councilman Bockelman agreed with reducing the size of the garden and suggested making it as weed and maintenance free as possible by way of weed cloth and an automatic watering system. He also noted hearing all the complaints but not seeing anyone volunteer to take care of the garden. Councilman Baker said as long as the garden is there, there will be a problem with people wanting to plant a rose bush for one of their family members. He said that is why he is not in support. Councilman Chinske also commented on seeing no volunteers step forward and asked why the garden is on city land in the first place.

City Clerk Mary Benton filled in the history. She said the Memorial Rose Garden was established in 1998 by Gladys Smith with the promise it would never cost the city anything and that the Garden Club would take care of it. She said it has grown from there.

When it came time for a vote on Waidely’s motion a question about conflict of interest arose. It was decided since there is no financial gain to Waidely, he could participate and his motion could stand.

Councilman Jackson suggested conferring with City Parks Foreman Gordon Stevenson at the next Parks and Recreation Team meeting and reporting the results to the council.

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