“Do I really need the side of pita chips and hummus with my falafel?” Today I am savoring my lunch from Ghassan’s, located within Carolyn & Maurice LeBauer Park, in downtown Greensboro. I settle on the Lebanese salad as I watch others chow on their equally delicious looking burgers from the food kiosk opposite mine. (This is a park-blog Christopher, not a restaurant review.) The choice, however, reflects the multiplicity of recreational experiences and the diversity among the locals and out-of-towners who partake in them.
The four-acre park, which opened in the summer of 2016, is snuggly situated between the Greensboro Cultural Center, Greensboro Historical Museum, the Greensboro Public Library, and is always bustling with activity.
Park patrons and art aficionados will appreciate the installations throughout the park. The Peacehaven Sensory Wall in the children’s garden and the aforementioned food kiosks, designed by NC architect Frank Harmon. Where We Met, a colorful, 200-foot-wide, net hangs high above the concert lawn. The cabling supporting the installation, created by artist Janet Echelman, mirrors the network of railroad tracks which traversed Greensboro in the late 19th century, sending the textiles produced here across the U.S. The lawn below boasts crowds of 3,000 to 4,000 during special events, but remains an intimate setting for the free movie nights and concert series the park frequently hosts.
The large, accessible, play-scape at the center of the park provides plenty of opportunities for digging, hopping, rolling, running, spinning, and climbing. Parents will enjoy the ample seating, clear sight lines, perimeter fencing, and extended rest that comes with setting their child free in this space. When your hot, sweaty child has finally exhausted every conceivable way to explore the children’s garden they can cool off at the interactive fountain/splash pad situated just steps from the gate to the play area; rinse, repeat. Parents and guardians can also enroll their children in the free, weekly, Kid’s Klub programming with dance, art, story-time, and healthy eating opportunities.
A pocket dog park consisting of artificial turf and crushed stone occupies a corner of the park; dog lovers/owners and werewolves can participate in free group dog training, dog yoga, and adoption fairs…swearwolves should stay home! (If you got the rather obscure movie reference, and you’re in Greensboro, let’s have coffee, or chips and hummus). Nature enthusiasts can stop and smell the flowers in the native plant garden and golfers can work on their short game at the putting green outside the cultural arts center. LeBauer park is open until 11 pm and the lighting scheme really provides pop to the installations and fountain, so come back after sunset and grab a drink or dinner at nearby Café Europa and enjoy the park in a new light.
As much as I enjoy taking my family to LeBauer Park, it is equally enjoyable on a professional level. It is exceptionally well managed by the nonprofit Greensboro Downtown Parks Inc. in partnership with Greensboro’s Park and Recreation Department. Well-designed parks, like LeBauer, activate underutilized spaces, promote economic development, and are a gathering place for diverse user groups to meet and co-mingle. The numerous public-private sponsorships and the $10 million bequest by Carolyn Weill LeBauer affirm the value corporations, non-profits, and the public place on our profession, parks, and the role they play in creating equitable, healthy, and vibrant communities.
LeBauer Park is located at 208 N. Davie Street Greensboro, NC 27401. On-street and off-street parking along with the Church Street Parking Deck is available nearby. A calendar of events, complete facility listing, and a detailed history of the park and the LeBauers can be found at http://www.greensborodowntownparks.org/.