The preliminary designs for the memorial garden in honor of late City Commissioner Kim Gibbs feature Little Lime hydrangea, Little Devil ninebark, a seasonal container, steppingstones, a boulder, Pugster Blue butterfly bush, Lil’ Kim rose of Sharon, assorted perennials from Gibbs’ garden and an existing tree.

The preliminary designs for the memorial garden in honor of late City Commissioner Kim Gibbs feature Little Lime hydrangea, Little Devil ninebark, a seasonal container, steppingstones, a boulder, Pugster Blue butterfly bush, Lil’ Kim rose of Sharon, assorted perennials from Gibbs’ garden and an existing tree.

Design provided by Erika Sykes


Memorial garden for late Commissioner Kim Gibbs coming to South Barton Park

By: Sarah Wojcik | Royal Oak Review | Published October 20, 2020

 Gibbs

Gibbs

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ROYAL OAK — On Oct. 12, the Royal Oak City Commission unanimously directed staff to begin the necessary preparations for a memorial garden dedicated to late City Commissioner Kim Gibbs.

The Old Broads Group, self-described “non-partisan, social group of Royal Oak residents and/or business owners dedicated to supporting women and charitable causes in our community,” brought the memorial garden proposal to City Manager Paul Brake.

The group sought approval for the installation of the garden by the end of spring 2021. The group also hopes to incorporate elements from Gibbs’ garden — Gibbs was known for her green thumb and love of gardening — into the final design.

The group collected donations from its members and the community to finance the project. As of press time, the GoFundMe page had raised $2,925 of its $5,000 goal. To donate, visit www.gofundme.com and search for “Kim Gibbs Memorial Garden.”

According to a letter addressed to Brake from the founding members of the Old Broads Group, fellow member and owner of Two Women and a Hoe Jan Bills volunteered her services to design and manage the installation of the “virtually maintenance-free” garden, and some longtime vendors of the Farmers Market, where Gibbs was a regular, have vowed to ensure the garden remains beautiful and maintained.

Additionally, the group chose South Barton Park due to its proximity to the market.

Gibbs died Aug. 20 at the age of 48, two weeks after being discovered unconscious in her home. She reportedly suffered a seizure after being involved in a car accident. An attorney, Gibbs also had Type 1 diabetes.

Gibbs reportedly suffered after the City Commission censured, or formally condemned, her after she attended a protest in Lansing against Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s lockdown orders April 15 and she received national backlash.

In May, police issued her a retail fraud citation after she did not pay for all of her groceries at Meijer, and she released a statement apologizing and outlining the economic impact of the lockdown on her financially.

“Recently, I had to choose between insulin and food, and I chose the insulin, which helps me stay alive; however, that left extraordinarily little money for food after paying for medical insurance and insulin,” she wrote. “I have realized, as I have been told by friends, that I need, and am seeking help.”

The late commissioner is remembered for her bubbly personality, positive energy, smile, spirituality and desire to help others.

“They did an amazing job pulling together some plans that weren’t just beautiful in nature, but brought a lot of sentimental value to the proposal,” Mayor Michael Fournier said. “If you look at the design, there’s certainly a lot of thought that went into the types of plants that would be there.”

The preliminary designs for the memorial garden feature Little Lime hydrangea, Little Devil ninebark, a seasonal container, steppingstones, a boulder, Pugster Blue butterfly bush, Lil’ Kim rose of Sharon, assorted perennials from Gibbs’ garden and an existing tree.

Aaron Filipski, director of the Royal Oak Department of Public Service, said there was plenty of work the DPS could do in the fall to prepare the area for the spring installation of the memorial garden, including removing approximately a dozen burning bushes that obscure the view of the park and that also present a safety hazard.

Fournier said he was excited for the beautification of the park, the nod to Gibbs’ life and the potential for the city to charge a reservation fee on the existing gazebo for future events, such as weddings.

City Attorney David Gillam commended the group for developing the design and raising funds. However, he clarified that the property is city-owned and the city would make decisions regarding how the property is maintained and the long-term design and use of the garden.

“Hopefully, this will be a productive partnership between the city and residents and friends of Kim for a long period of time,” Gillam said.

Erika Sykes, who helped spearhead the initiative, said she was thrilled the city was on board with the project and mentioned that several commissioners also donated to the cause.

“It’s a fitting tribute to have her garden in her name,” Sykes said. “I know that Kim would love it, and I think the residents will like it.”

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