BOWMANVILLE — Bowmanville neighbors are no longer green with envy about other communities' parks. Now they're just green.
On Wednesday, the City Council approved a $70,000 grant of Open Space Impact Fees to help finance the purchase of vacant land on Ravenswood Avenue along the UP-North Metra tracks, land the Bowmanville community will develop into an urban oasis.
"By providing these funds, the city has guaranteed that this land will remain open and green in perpetuity," said Stew Weiss, chairman of the Bowmanville Community Organization's planning and development committee.
Plans are to create opportunities for year-round food growing, ecological education, accessible gardening for the elderly and persons with disabilities, and a community gathering space.
The newly acquired .29-acre property in the 5300 block of North Ravenswood Ave. will be integrated into an adjacent community garden, dubbed Gateway Garden, that Bowmanville neighbors carved out of unused public parkway nearly a decade ago.
Gateway Garden's future was in jeopardy when the Metra embankment, which was privately owned, was cleared of overgrowth and graded from a steep slope to street level as part of the rail operator's recent track improvements.
A "for sale" sign on the property jolted the Bowmanville Community Organization into action. The group teamed with the nonprofit urban land trust group NeighborSpace to submit a bid to buy the land, which was accepted.
The organization went into overdrive to cobble together the dollars needed to finalize the purchase. In addition to the Open Space grant, sponsored by 40th Ward Ald. Pat O'Connor, neighbors raised $50,000, and a $50,000 grant was obtained from the Driehaus Foundation.
The land will be held in trust by NeighborSpace.
To celebrate the ownership of Gateway Garden, and to raise more money to build it, the Bowmanville Community Organization is hosting a deed party 7 p.m.-10 p.m. Wednesday at Half Acre's Balmoral Taproom, 2050 W. Balmoral Ave.
Tickets are $40 and include food and beer.