Work is expected to begin this month on the final phase of the Commerce Public Library expansion project — a new memorial garden.
The $75,000 project was part of the expansion completed in 2013, but is being built under a separate contract. Funding comes from the original project comprising money raised locally (almost $600,000) and state funds — about $2 million together. The Piedmont Regional Library will administer the project.
When the library was expanded, the new footprint consumed the Wallace Nelson Memorial Garden, which was created in memory of a longtime library board member and supporter. An area in the new garden will be dedicated in Nelson’s memory and will include his memorial plaque. Other memorials will be placed throughout the garden.
The original plan was for the centerpiece of the garden to be a sassafrass tree paying tribute to Olive Ann Burns’ acclaimed novel, “Cold Sassy Tree,” the setting of which was based on Commerce. However, that was scratched in favor of a willow oak because of problems in transplanting a sassafrass tree.
Other highlights are a 150-seat amphitheater designed to accommodate outdoor events, particularly children’s programming, and a “memorial plaza” paved with hundreds of engraved bricks sold to honor or memorialize local residents and their families.
The contractor is College Pro Landscaping of Athens.