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.

Dear editor,

We have all been reading and hearing about the Monk Botanical Gardens debacle for almost three weeks now. Does my understanding align with yours?

The family offered to replace the bridge about 7 years ago. They were turned down. The family offered $15,000 to replace the bridge. The offer was rejected.

It was in 2017-18, after Mr. & Mrs. Monk’s deaths, when that additional land and the Monk’s home was purchased. The additional property stemmed from a donation by Ruth Schuette, who years earlier, donated the funds to build the accessible tree house. The deed for the additional acreage, mandates that the memorial site be maintained in perpetuity. Instead the memorial site would be overgrown, if not for the labor of family members. Visitors now see an ugly orange cone and sign saying the area is off limits.

The path is blocked, where we were once able to walk the pathway, circling the pond. Basic maintenance and safety were put aside, out of pettiness. The aesthetics and the experience, for every visitor has been put aside, out of pettiness.

The executive director, Darcie Howard made family members input feel unwelcome, and then complained and gossiped that they didn’t stop by, or contribute more often. Hurtful actions towards the Monk family are brought into the public eye, following the removal of Monk from the Monk Botanical Gardens name.

Volunteers and early board members are “fired” if they dare to try and uphold core values and the vision of Mr. Monk. Their heartbreaking stories have been shared on the Save Robert Monk’s Garden Facebook page.

Recently, a family member thought it was odd that the gardens didn’t have a horticulturist on staff, and posted the question on the Save Robert Monk’s Garden Facebook page. Cora Borden replied: “They HAD a horticulturalist- me. I was let go on the spot after Thanksgiving citing budget restraints and ‘we don’t need your level of expertise at this time.’ After only 6 months and having relocated my entire life from Washington state.” What are the priorities of the current executive director and board, if it isn’t having an expert in horticulture, on staff?

When this is made right, it will take exceptional leadership to repair the damage. What confidence should we have that the executive director Darcie Howard and current members of the board are up to that challenge?

Deb Hollander Wiensch, Merrill