THE contentious Warners Bay Community Garden could be set to sprout, but numerous opponents hope it fails at the seed stage.
Lake Macquarie City Council staff have given the plan the green thumb, but councillors will have the final say when they vote on it tonight.
The garden, planned for Bunya Park, Eleebana, has attracted controversy and divided the community, with concerns about the use of public land and the environment.
A council report said more than 550 submissions had been received about the plan, with the majority in opposition.
Warners Bay Community Garden secretary Stephen Taylor said he had a petition with more than 900 signatures supporting the plan.
About 70per cent of those who signed the petition lived within 10 kilometres of the park.
‘‘We’re confident there is massive support in the community for this project to go ahead,’’ Mr Taylor said.
The council report said the garden was planned to cover 3800 square metres, but more than 15,000 square metres of the park would remain for recreation.
Establishing a garden in the park would present an ‘‘unnecessary risk to the environment’’, according to Warners Bay Landcare chairman Robert Loughran.
‘‘We’re not against community gardens. This is a good idea in the wrong spot,’’ Mr Loughran said.
He said the proposed garden did not include adequate buffers from three endangered ecological communities in the park.
The Landcare group was concerned about weeds escaping from the garden and diminishing the quality of nearby natives.
A further concern was that the garden would deprive natives and a wetland of water.
‘‘The proposed planting of citrus and other fruit trees is directly against planted native trees,’’ he said.
The council report said measures the garden group had proposed to avoid negative effects were ‘‘considered sufficient’’.
‘‘A well-run garden will be an asset, as it has the potential to bring the community together,’’ the report said.