New botanical gardens could be coming to Anniston

By Dixon Hayes

ANNISTON, AL (WBRC) - Two Anniston museums have their eye on a community center that may be closed soon.  They see it being reborn as botanical gardens, an attraction rivaling the gardens at the Birmingham Zoo.

The city is considering the closure of the Lenlock Community Center.  They would relocate its tennis courts, soccer fields and other facilities to McClellan.

The Anniston Museum of Natural History and Berman Museum would like to convert it into a botanical garden and welcome center.

Local extension agent Hayes Jackson sees the area being loaded with children's gardens and camellia collections, among other things, even an interactive garden where gardeners can take things home.

Jackson tells Fox6 News, "One thing about our climate: we're really not tropical.  We're also at the southern tail end of the Appalachians, so that gives us a variety of things we can play with."

There are even plans to make the garden earth friendly by collection rainwater from the two museums, and by turning the Lenlock swimming pool into an aquatic garden and rain garden.

The museum's curator of collections, Dan Spaulding, sees good things if the gardens turn out to be a major tourist attraction.

"If you ever go to a botanical garden," Spaulding says, "you see the communities that rise up around it, are very nice communities.  And a place like a botanical garden really attracts people that want to live in a nice area."

If the museums get the site, they hope to begin work on the project this fall, and finish it up in three years.

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