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City 86s Marina Art Gardener
John Watson says people think his garden on the abandoned dock is neat, but he has to remove it since the dock is damaged and isn’t safe.

By Jim Knowles
San Leandro Times

John Watson’s garden is the one thing that’s thriving at the San Leandro Marina.

The marina is no longer dredged and as the silt fills it in, more boats are leaving. Nothing much is going on – except for Watson’s art-garden.

Watson has spent the last few years making a little oasis of plants and recycled art on an abandoned dock.

“God gave me creativity, so I used it to make this,” Watson said.

But Watson just got an official letter telling him to pack up and get out.

Watson’s art garden had to be removed by Wednesday (yesterday), the letter said, or it will be removed for him.

“They told me I can’t move it anywhere in San Leandro. It has be be taken out of the city limits,” Watson said.

But the marina manager who sent the letter says it’s simply that the abandoned dock is a hazard. It was closed to the public after a fire destroyed part of it, but some of the yellow caution tape has been removed.

Marina Manager Delmarie Snodgrass knows everybody around the marina. She said she’s given Watson a couple of used pots for his plants over the years, and she knows he likes his garden.

Other marina residents say it’s the higher ups at City Hall who ordered the garden to be removed from the dock. It’s just Snodrass’s job to carry it out.

“I tried to speak with him. I know he’s proud of the garden but he just has to move it,” Snodgrass said. “It’s a closed pier.”

The fire department cut holes in the pier when they put out the fire, so it’s not safe for anyone to be on at all, Snodgrass added.

Snodgrass said that Hayward has an art park, and that’s the kind of place that would be ideal for Watson’s garden. But San Leandro doesn’t have anything like that.

Meanwhile, Watson said he’ll try to get the deadline extended, but if he has to move the garden out, he’ll do it.

One of the items in Watson’s art garden is a little podium with a Bible and the pages blow in the bay breeze. Whatever page the wind decides to leave open, that’s what Watson reads.

“I got Luke here right now,” Watson said. “If I have to leave, I’ll leave. God gave me creativity, so I’ll figure something out.”



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