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Renovations to Reading’s City Park greenhouse slated to begin

Rehabilitation of the City Park greenhouse is on tap, Reading officials said.

Mothballed for more than a decade, the greenhouse is envisioned as a center for environmental and horticultural demonstrations, lectures, educational events and student opportunities, said Kyle C. Zeiber, director of public works.

“The city of Reading foresees the greenhouse as a hub for community gardening in the city,” Zeiber said. “We would like to see it used to promote sustainability and gardening initiatives throughout the city.”

David W. Anspach III, acting capital project manager, said the project includes deep cleaning and replacing the acrylic skin, which he called the heart of the greenhouse.

The clear panels have degraded and have been damaged over the years, he noted.

Exterior improvements include refurbishing the roof, gutters and downspouts, and repairing masonry.

New doors, paving and a flagpole will cap off the exterior improvements, officials said.

Interior improvements include an upgrade of the heating and electrical systems, minor repairs and cosmetic finishes.

The project cost is estimated at $750,000, officials said.

The city of Reading's HIstorical Architecture Review Board has approved plans for the rehabilitation of the City Park Greenhouse. (BILL UHRICH - READING EAGLE)
Rehabilitation at the City Park greenhouse includes deep cleaning and replacing the acrylic skin. (BILL UHRICH – READING EAGLE)

To better understand the building’s construction and how it could be operated successfully, city staff dug into historical and engineering records, Bethany Ayers-Fisher, city sustainability manager, said last year when the project was introduced to City Council.

Ayers-Fisher said the first City Park greenhouse complex was built about 1886 and contained multiple structures and additions.

The current greenhouse was built about 1926 and used to grow flowers for planting in the city’s parks.

Annual open houses were held there during the 1960s and 1970s, but the facility fell into disrepair and was closed in the 1980s, according to period reports in the Reading Eagle.

Officials considered demolishing the structure until the now-inactive Friends of the Greenhouse organized in 1986 and partnered with the city to save it, the Reading Eagle reported on Dec. 16, 1994.

The greenhouse reopened in 1992 after more than $225,000 in renovations were made, the Eagle reported.

The city does not have the capacity to offer public programs and is seeking potential partners that could help with urban gardening initiatives, officials said.

“We are in conversation with stakeholders to form an alliance to help manage and program the various activities that will take place there,” Zeiber said. “We envision demonstrations, lectures, educational events, and educational opportunities for students.”

Source: Berkshire mont

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