Chelsea Botanical Gardens Fact Sheet

Chelsea Botanical Gardens is a botanical garden project that was created by the Chelsea Gardens Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, incorporated in 1993. There are hundreds of botanical gardens worldwide, all with a common purpose of cultivating and creating collections of plants for education and research. The economic development impact of these gardens resonates through every community fortunate enough to have one. They improve quality of life for residents in the community, provide boundless resources for school children, and bring tourists to visit----tourists who patronize local businesses. This garden project will be funded by grants, endowments, private and corporate donations, and fundraising events. The Foundation is governed by a volunteer board of local residents and business owners who are passionate proponents of this project, as evidenced by their collective years of education and experience with respect to plant knowledge, landscaping, and gardening.

What is a botanical garden?
A botanical garden is a controlled and staffed institution for the maintenance of a living collection of plants under scientific management for purposes of education and research.

How will a botanical garden benefit Norwich?
The positive impact of Chelsea Botanical Gardens on Norwich and surrounding areas will be significant. The direct economic impact for Phase 1A is estimated at $2.7 million annually with projected admissions of 175,000-200,000 during the first year. Area restaurants, motels, and other service industries will be direct beneficiaries of the tourist influx. Plantings, garden and construction supplies will be purchased from local businesses whenever possible; full-time and part-time help will be hired from within the community.The gardens will be compatible with the local climate and topography of the park. Aesthetic value is vitally important in enhancing quality of life.

What is the master plan and funding plan for this project?
The Master Plan of the Gardens will be developed in five major phases. It is estimated that the Gardens will take 20 years to construct, with various areas phased in as funding allows. Funding for Phase 1A will be generated through grants, endowments, corporate and private donations, bonding, and fundraising events. Phase 1A is the clearing of the land and preparation of the site for the visitor center, and should be completed in two years.

Why is the leased section of Mohegan Park suitable for this garden and why can’t you reuse existing buildings?
The topography of the leased land is conducive to the construction of the garden; moreover, its location allows it to be secure and separate from the rest of the park. The central part of the park, which currently contains some existing buildings, was an active park and not available for lease at the time the city created Chelsea Gardens' lease. That land is still not available; other developed areas of Mohegan Park are currently used by the public for social functions/events and recreation.

What permits were required to build this project to date?
A wetlands permit was needed and was approved by the City of Norwich in 2012. The Site Approval Plan was reviewed by the Commission on the City Plan and approved in 2013. At this time, that approval has expired but was not needed to begin clearing of the site. Clearing of the site involved cutting of selected trees; stumps and root systems remain. Tree clearing is considered by Connecticut State Statute to be an agricultural activity for which no permit was needed.

How much land was actually cleared so that Phase I can begin?
Six acres of land was selectively cleared of trees so that Phase I can begin. Some roadways/trails were already clear and some sections that were cleared had less dense tree coverage.

Who cleared the trees, how was it paid for and where did the wood go?
The trees were cleared by a company based in Bozrah. They provided Chelsea Gardens with a bid which included a cost for the cutting and removal of the trees offset by the cost of taking possession of the cut trees that they in turn would sell. In the end, the final invoice for tree removal was approximately $5,000.

Is the Chelsea Botanical Gardens Board part of the City of Norwich?
No, the Board was established in 1993 via a City Council resolution with the mission of establishing as a nonprofit organization with the sole purpose of building a botanical garden to enhance the assets of Mohegan Park. The Board that oversees the Chelsea Botanical Gardens project is the Board of the Chelsea Gardens Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit entity that was incorporated in 1993.

Why are so many of the Board members connected to the landscaping profession and will their businesses benefit financially from this project?
The Internal Revenue Service recommends “Successful governing boards include individuals who not only are knowledgeable and engaged, but selected with the organization’s needs in mind.” That is why several members on the CBG Board are connected to landscaping professions; a number of them are Master Gardeners and one teaches regular gardening classes. Those members would be “knowledgeable and engaged” with the mission of the organization: to create and sustain a botanical garden. Furthermore, several board members have not only donated many hours of their own time but some of their company resources as well. No, their businesses will not benefit financially from this project. The purchasing practices of the board are scrutinized in a yearly audit which would reveal any purchases of goods or services from a business affiliated with a board member.

How was Chelsea Gardens able to lease city land?
In the same city council resolution that accepted Chelsea Gardens Foundation, Inc. as the organization to develop and manage a botanical garden in Mohegan Park, the City Manager was appointed to negotiate a lease with the Foundation. In March 1994 the Council held a Public Hearing. On May 20, 1994 the Commission on the City Plan met regarding the proposed development of the Chelsea Gardens and its location in Mohegan Park and unanimously voted to forward the council a favorable recommendation for the development at the site. The lease was created in 1995. 

The mission of Chelsea Botanical Gardens is to develop and maintain botanical gardens and a butterfly pavilion by incorporating education, research, and conservation.

Board of Directors

Hugh Schnip, President
Robert Reed, Past President
Brandon Hyde, Vice President
Peter Maneri, C.P.A. ,Treasurer
Laurie Eng, Secretary

 

 

 

John Bilda
Mary EdgarBen Lathrop
Ben Lathrop
Jennifer Johnson
Kathryn Lord
Theodore Phillips II, Esq/
Linda Turner