2012-03-23 / Front Page

Fort group mulls boxes

By Kristy Wagner Staff Writer

Fort Williams Advisory Commission members weighed the idea of a donation box at the park to collect money for the arboretum project that has been talked about since 2007.

Stephen Bates, president of the Fort Williams Foundation,brought up the subject at a March 15 meeting.

The volunteer project has been spearheaded by the Fort Williams Foundation to create an arboretum of 15 separate landscapes around the park’s perimeter.

The project works with the Fort Williams Master Plan in reversing damage caused by invasive species, creating native and sustainable landscapes, restoring natural wildlife habitats and identifying educational resources and opportunities.

Bates said he spoke at the March 15 meeting on behalf of Kathryn Bacastow, chairman of the project’s steering committee.

“It’s (Bacastow’s) view that such a box would not be a detriment to the existing boxes, but be instrumental to them,” Bates said. “The million dollar question is proceeds.”

There are four other donation boxes throughout the park, with proceeds funding capital projects.

“(Bacastow) is not looking for an answer tonight,” Bates said. “The hope, from an arboretum perspective, is if a donation box is approved, the site donations can be applied to the arboretum and go toward maintenance of the cliff side.”

Robert Malley, director of public works, said park rangers empty the donation boxes every day and proceeds from the boxes are anticipated to total up to $8,000 of the park’s capital fund for the fiscal year that ends June 30.

The advisory commission had some worries about the boxes being mixed up, and park visitors not knowing what they were contributing to when they donated, if they allowed other donation boxes to be thrown into the mix.

“My biggest concern is, we’re setting a precedent if we put in a donation box for the arboretum and people working on Battery Blair will want a donation box to help their cause and the Goddard Mansion people will want a donation box to help their cause. If we start splitting projects up separately it creates confusion,” said Bill Nickerson, chairman of the advisory commission.

Advisory commission member Erin Grady said she did not want to see a new donation box every time a new project began in the park and asked if funds from the park’s capital fund would be used for the project’s landscapes once it was completed.

“Are we going to have some involvement at some point? Most definitely, but right now (funding for the project) is not intended to come out of park’s operating budget,” Malley said in response to Grady. “They don’t want this to be a burden on the community. I think they’ve made that very clear.”

Malley did have reservations about the donation boxes looking identical.

“I am worried that all the boxes look the same and it could be confusing just to the person who’s donating,” he said.

Advisory commission member, Lise Pratt, remained undecided on how she felt about allowing a donation box solely for the arboretum project.

“I am conflicted totally about it because I support the arboretum project. I have some concerns about precedent setting for the projects we are aware of now and some in the future and how that can work, but at the same time, I am frustrated. I feel we are competing against ourselves. We’re all working toward the same thing,” she said.

Pratt said the advisory commission and the Fort Williams Foundation may need to hold further discussions on how they would coordinate the donation boxes together in the park.

“They’re trying to raise money for one thing and we don’t want them to because it might take away from our money. It feels very compartmentalized and feels wrong to me,” Pratt said.

The board tabled the request pending a discussion with the project’s steering committee about options for coordinating collections for the arboretum and capital fund. Staff Writer Kristy Wagner can be reached at 282-4337,

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