JEFFERSON PARK — Mayor Rahm Emanuel threw his support Wednesday behind a community garden that broke ground in May.
Emanuel introduced a measure to the City Council that would sell the triangular piece of land at Higgins, Central and Edmunds avenues to Neighbor Space, a nonprofit land trust, for $1.
City workers began digging up contaminated soil on the property in May to make way for the new garden, which had been in the works for more than a year.
Once home to a gas station and several other businesses, there were no plans to redevelop the city-owned land, which had been vacant for years. That made it a perfect fit for St. Robert Bellarmine Spirit Community Garden, Ald. John Arena (45th) said.
Arena's office used $108,000 collected from developers who built on what was once open land to clean up the parcel to make it usable as a garden.
Workers dug a 3-foot-deep by 5-foot-wide trench around the perimeter of the property, and replaced it with fresh soil where nonedible plants would grow, Arena said.
On the rest of the property, workers removed the remaining asphalt and trees in addition to removing a foot of the soil and dirt that might be contaminated, Arena said.
A barrier of crushed rock and sand will replace the soil removed from the center of the garden, and block any chemicals from leeching into the new soil. Raised beds will be used to plant fruits, vegetables and other greens, Arena said.
Other improvements planned include entry gates, signage, a walking path, shed, benches and native plantings.
Neighbor Space provides long-term protection for more than 80 vegetable, flower and prairie gardens across Chicago.