Master Gardeners should share costs


The purpose of this letter is to offer a concern regarding the actions of The Ohio State University Extension / Trumbull County and County Director Marie Economos related to the cost and management of the Packard Park Greenhouses at Packard Park in Warren.

As a local business operator for over 50 years in the field of horticulture, it is rare that an opportunity in that field arises which requires comment for public consideration. I am reluctant to do so yet this is one of those times.

For several years now I have watched as The Ohio State University Extension / Master Gardener Program has enjoyed the opportunity to utilize the greenhouses at Packard Park free of charge in order to support its various horticultural programming efforts. Specifically, through the benevolent and kind actions of two City of Warren administrations, with the public interest in mind, several Master Gardener volunteers have been able to offer programs, organize plant sales and grow plants to support their various projects.

While the space is rightly shared with other non-profit organizations, the Master Gardener Volunteer Program has NEVER had to offer direct remittance or formal in-kind services for the use of the space or the cost of heat, water and electricity to grow the plant material they use. Also, they offer no evidence that The Ohio State University Extension or the Master Gardeners on site offer payment for insurance, repairs or maintenance.

As a business owner it is clear to see that these costs have been, are and will continue to be significant to the taxpayers of the City of Warren. This is a burden that is carried by the taxpayers of the City of Warren and the two other not-for-profit entities that share space at the facility. It is a burden which must be relieved out of a sense of fairness given the numerous budget constraints the City of Warren faces including the laying-off of firefighters that cannot be retained in the near future because of the loss of funding sources.

While the Extension’s work at Packard Park is noble, the administrative details that surround OSU Extension’s presence at the site is muted, silly, vague and obtuse. It is clear that the appropriate thing to do is to ask OSU Extension and County Director Marie Economos to do the right thing and correct this administrative wrong as well as assume a fair share of the burden for managing and subsidizing the Packard Park Greenhouses. This is an effort that should be resolved at the county director level and no other. It should not be an item transferred to the desk of another staff member or to another county for forever consideration.

Extension County Director Economos, Extension staff and volunteers can find revenue, create revenue, as well as seek cost savings in current programs in order to make certain that this is done. It would be a right and thankful message to send to the funding agent of OSU Extension the taxpayers of Trumbull County. Also, it would provide OSU Extension with an investment in the county seat to tend as well as offer evidence of commitment and caring to the residents of the City of Warren.

Lewis J. Paquet