Support for the greenhouse continues to grow.
Only a year ago the Sandusky City Greenhouse was in dire financial straits because of a wilting city budget. City commissioners put the greenhouse and parks department on notice, and officials speculated its days were numbered.
"The citizens have rallied and made it clear (the greenhouse) is a landmark and has a historical place," said Mike Pisarsky, superintendent of horticultural services.
With help from the Friends of the Greenhouse along with sustainable energy improvements and a major boost from a Kellogg Foundation grant, the city greenhouse is in bloom once again.
In January, 20 55-watt solar panels were up and running at the greenhouse, thanks to help from Honeywell and the Foundation for Environmental Education.
Tuned boilers, a new heat-retention curtain, weatherstripping on all the doors and new double-paned acrylic panels have helped the greenhouse become more energy-efficient and self-sufficient.
On Saturday, the Sandusky City Greenhouse will celebrate Arbor Day with an open house from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and give demonstrations for those interested in the energy-saving updates at the greenhouse.
Breakfast and lunch will be served at the greenhouse, 620 Elm St., courtesy of the Sandusky/Erie County Community Foundation and Meijer.
At 10:30 a.m. there will be a tree planting ceremony next to the greenhouse at Huron Park. A children's poetry reading in celebration of Arbor Day will take place at the tree planting site.
"Hopefully this will be something that morphs into an annual event," said Tom Speir, greenhouse foreman.
At this weekend's open house, the Sandusky/Erie County Community Foundation will provide an update on the "Access to Recreation" grant from the Kellogg Foundation. In September 2007, the greenhouse was awarded a $500,000 grant that will enable the greenhouse to make necessary changes so it is accessible to people with disabilities.
"That's part of the goal... to get everybody from all walks of life to enjoy the greenhouse," Speir said.
Speir said the greenhouse is an important part of Sandusky's history and will hopefully be around for generations to come.
"The only way to secure that is the endowment fund that we've already started," Speir said. "Last year, we had over $11,000 in donations."
The Friends of the Greenhouse organization got its start at the city's first greenhouse open house last year, Pisarsky said. The membership dues, along with the revenues from the palm and mound rentals, go toward the greenhouse endowment fund established three years ago.
Friends of the Greenhouse memberships cost $10 for individuals and $25 for corporations. Those who join while at the Saturday open house will get a free plant with their membership. There will also be a raffle for a hanging-basket fern.
The city has operated a greenhouse since 1908. The greenhouse supplies plants for Washington Park, Oakland Cemetery, Veteran's Park, Dauch Park, Facer Park, Shoreline Park, East Park, Epple's Corner, Schade-Mylander Plaza, the Rose Garden, Butler Street landscape mound, Mills Creek golf course, and planters and baskets along Columbus Avenue downtown.
Pisarsky said the greenhouse and horticultural services are an important community enrichment tool, but also contribute to economic development. Beautiful parks attract people and developers to the downtown.
"Washington park is the crown jewel of Sandusky," Pisarsky said.
Want to go?
WHAT: Sandusky City Greenhouse open house
WHEN: 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday
WHERE: 620 Elm St.