Dear editor,

It is disheartening, yet clear, that the executive director and Board of Monk (Botanical) Gardens lack the capacity to listen and respond to the community the gardens serve, and have no regard for the man who generously donated the property. Instead, after “plenty of hearty discussion and consideration” this small group decided to change the name of the gardens, apparently because the gardens and Mr. Monk’s story “has grown bigger than we ever imagined! It is bigger than Mr. Monk and his family, bigger than the staff members who work here each day.”

Bigger indeed. In the past days we’ve seen plenty of stories from volunteers who have been fired (how does one fire a volunteer by the way?), successful programs ended, neglect of the family’s memorial site, and refusal to accept help or gifts that do not fall in line with the leadership of the gardens. That does not sound like a vision for growth, it sounds like a singular view of what the gardens should be, and if you do not agree, your services are no longer required.

The executive director and board clearly have noticed the community response and had their closed-door meeting to deal with the backlash. The result of that appears to be them digging in their heels and choosing to fight a war of attrition with the very community and family they have dismissed. I guess if you are not on board with whatever direction the executive director and board are going, there is simply no room for you at the beer garden.

It is a sad state of affairs. There is almost no support in the community for this unnecessary change. A press release touts the “positive” influence the gardens have on the community. It notes that, “A name change is in the best interest of the organization and the community we serve so that our roots will continue to deepen as a community asset.” I disagree with that statement with all my being. Your name change has been overwhelmingly rejected by the community you claim to serve. The change is only necessary and important to you.

Digging in and hoping the community eventually loses interest is not a good look, and it is not too late for you to compromise. Acknowledging a misstep and choosing a new name would show that you DO care about the community and are truly committed to honoring the Monk family’s gift. It would also be a step in the right direction in recovering the self-inflicted damage to the trust and faith the community had in you. This is incredibly simple: Choose a name that ‘locates’ the gardens in Wausau and continues to use the Monk name front and center where it should be.

Darin Bockman of Wausau

Editor’s note: Wausau Pilot & Review gladly publishes commentary from readers, residents and candidates for local offices. The views of readers and columnists are independent of this newspaper and do not necessarily reflect the views of Wausau Pilot & Review. To submit, email [email protected] or mail to 500 N. Third St., Suite 208-8, Wausau, Wis. 54403.