Weeds meet their match at 'The Walt'

A monarch butterfly enjoys the newly beautified front garden at Walter Stinson Community Park in University Heights.

Walter Stinson Community Park is a popular destination in University Heights. The playground attracts young children. The large open space draws dog walkers. Coffee seekers flock to the park every weekend. And, when we’re not in the middle of a pandemic, 'The Walt' attracts large crowds for Fall Fest, concerts and movies.

The beautiful organic gardens at The Walt also attract all sorts of birds and butterflies. Unfortunately, the gardens also attract a wide variety of weeds.

The weeds have met their match in The Friends of The Walt, a newly created group of neighbors who have volunteered to help beautify the park. (They’re kind of like the Avengers, but without all the high-tech gadgets and elaborate costumes.)

The Friends of The Walt volunteer group formed organically (no pun intended), through the efforts of Eran Shiloh and Emma Shook, after the city organized volunteers to clean the park back in August.

“We started by focusing on the rain gardens at the entrance to the park, and the flower beds adjacent to the road,” Shiloh said. “Since then we have been meeting every Saturday morning at 8 a.m. by the Fenwick Road entrance to the park.”

A regular group has assembled every subsequent Saturday, and includes Donald Vicarel, Joanna Homann, Darlene and Brian Floden, Rosalia Rozsahegyi, as well as Shook and Shiloh.

Walter Stinson Community Park was planned so as to incorporate plantings beneficial not only to people, but to nature. A rain garden and native plants provide beautification as well as stormwater management, and food and shelter for birds and insects. 

“Public green spaces like the park are vitally important to residents, yet often a city does not have the means or expertise to maintain them beyond mowing and caring for trees,” Shiloh explained. “This is where citizen activism and community involvement can make a difference.”

The Friends of the Walt are focused on removing plants on Ohio’s noxious weed list, including bull thistle, bindweed and buckthorn. They replace them with beneficial native plants. Thanks to donations from residents and contributions from the city, the group is also replacing shrubs that have died.

Future plans include installing educational signage to promote ecological gardening.

Shiloh said more volunteers are welcome to help, regardless of residency. To volunteer, contact UH City Hall by e-mailing info@universityheights.com; your request to volunteer will be shared with the group.

This is part of a greater environmental effort in University Heights. Many residents have already joined the Heights Pollinator Pathways project by planting front-yard gardens composed of native plants for an ecologically healthy city environment.   

Mike Cook

Mike Cook is the communications and civic engagement coordinator for University Heights.

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Volume 13, Issue 11, Posted 9:19 AM, 10.27.2020