Kentville residents, those who work in the town and visitors alike could soon have another public green space to enjoy.
Kings Arms Pub by Lew Murphy’s owner Joey Murphy has offered to lease a vacant piece of land to the immediate west of his pub to the town for use by the public at no cost. The purpose would be to establish the “Kentville Public Gardens.”
Murphy said he understands that there were people interested in seeing some form of public green space established on the former F.W. Robinson property to the immediate east of the Kings Arms Pub.
However, the town is interested in pursuing a commercial development on the F.W. Robinson property. Murphy owns an existing green space with various trees and shrubs that borders the west side of his pub.
The land has been used as a patio in the past but Murphy now has the patio configured to the front of the pub, which is located at 390 Main Street.
“I’m not going to use that land for anything and it’s already a green space, so rather than have the land sit there dormant, I said why don’t we just propose it to the town and we’ll get some people moving in and out of there,” Murphy said.
He’s happy to offer the land for public use and hopes that people will use the space to relax, read a book or sit down and enjoy a cup of coffee. Murphy does have a provision in the draft lease agreement that will allow him to continue to use the space during the Apple Blossom Festival.
“Other than that, it’s the town’s to use,” he said.
Murphy approached Kentville Community and Economic Development Co-ordinator Lindsay Young with the proposal last year. This spring, Kentville town council approved $6,500 in the capital budget in support of the project.
Young applied in April to the Municipal Affairs Streetscaping and Beautification program, procuring an additional $10,900 for the development of a public garden. A long-term lease is expected to cost town ratepayers only $10.
Young said she was very excited when Murphy approached her with the idea. The public garden or sanctuary will be designed to use what is already in place, along with new additions. She foresees the incorporation of a lot of native plants and colourful blooms that would help attract hummingbirds, for example.
Young said they want it to be a space where people who find themselves in downtown Kentville for whatever reason can visit the garden, have a quiet place to reflect and perhaps sit on a bench, soft seating or at a picnic table and enjoy some lunch.
“We’re going to have some festival lighting in there for the evenings,” Young said. “It’s just going to be a really, really nice place to go and enjoy the outdoors if you are in downtown Kentville and looking for a space to do that.”
She said they hear from a lot of businesses with employees who are looking for somewhere to go on lunch or coffee breaks. Of course, the town has Miner’s Marsh but the marsh isn’t in the downtown core.
Young said in a report to town council that the wishes of the property owner to have the land used as public green space align with the goals and objectives of the town’s Community and Economic Development office - specifically related to tourism, beautification, placemaking and destination development.
The ongoing maintenance and upkeep of the garden, which Young reported to council is expected to be minimal, will be handled by town staff and absorbed as part of regular operations.
The draft lease will go before town council for final consideration at the regular monthly meeting in June. If approved, development of the public garden can begin.
DID YOU KNOW?
- Town of Kentville Community and Economic Development Co-ordinator Lindsay Young said they are concentrating on the development of so-called “third places.”
- These are places where people choose to spend the majority of their time outside of work and home.
- The creation of downtown third places is highly recommended by placemaking professionals and destination developers as a way to increase the vitality of downtowns and neighbourhoods.
- Research shows that the implementation of great third places support local economies, attract new business and investment, boost tourism, provide cultural opportunities, foster community pride and contribute to community safety.