Mike Richards and Jerry McGrane are engaged in a spitting match over Poet’s Park.
The dispute – between the president of the Oakhill Jackson Neighborhood Association and his predecessor, now a City Council member — is over a small flower garden that sits with a landmark stone at 12th Avenue and Otis Road SE to tell passers-by that they are in the neighborhood.
The spot, created on city land several years ago by the neighborhood association, is now called Poet’s Park.
On Wednesday afternoon, Richards fired off a press release, saying that McGrane had inappropriately used his standing as a City Council member to call on the city’s Parks and Recreation Department to mow down what Richards says were native Iowa prairie plants at the site.
McGrane fired right back, saying he did nothing of the kind. He said he brought the park up to city staff a few weeks ago in a general discussion about maintaining the smaller parks in the city.
Further, he said “due to Michael Richards’ laziness” as the neighborhood president, the garden at the triangular intersection at 12th Avenue and Otis Road SE had all gone to weeds.
McGrane also disputed that there were many native plants at the site, “unless you want to call weeds native plants,” he said.
Richards fired back: Just because McGrane doesn’t know what native plants look like doesn’t mean they weren’t there, Richards said.
As Richards tells it, all this came to light on Wednesday when a team of AmeriCorps Green Corps members showed up at the park at Richards’ request to clean up and weed the flower garden. The city employee was just finishing up his mowing at the site, Richards said.
Tim Reynolds, one of the Green Corps members, late Wednesday afternoon said the space in question was home to native plantings. Three other areas in the park also have plots of native plantings, and he said the Corps members cleaned those up and put new mulch in them on Wednesday.
Richards thought there the plants had been permanently damaged, though Reynolds said they would grow back.
McGrane said he knows someone willing to donate money to replace what he says was weeds with new plantings.