LEBANON — The City of Lebanon hosted a grand opening Strawberry Plaza, which was formerly Mural Park, after the Lebanon Strawberry Festival Junior Parade on Friday afternoon.
The renovated park features a strawberry sculpture with water running over it, rotating artwork, a totem pole and a stage. At the opening, many kids couldn't resist the urge to put their hands on the sculpture.
Lebanon Mayor Paul Aziz spoke about how the park transformed from an outdated park with gravel and fading murals into what it now, which is a clean looking park with cement, and a seating area for Conversion Brewing.
"Four years ago, I had a vision to change this neglected space," Aziz said.
That conversation continued when Lebanon City Manager Gary Marks was hired, and Lebanon's community visioning process showed that people wanted downtown to be the heart of Lebanon. Transforming the park was an action item defined by that vision statement.
"(This park) is not my vision, but a collaborative vision of the community," Aziz said.
The remodel of the park was funded by transient room tax dollars that had increased after the opening of Boulder Falls Inn, Aziz said.
He added that the new park will attract tourism as well.
"This little downtown jewel is one way we can bring people to Lebanon," Aziz said.
Mural Park was built in 1985 after a fire gutted the building.
Gary Marks unveiled the totem pole that that he restored. The pole has been a feature of Mural Park since it opened in 1985.
The wooden pole After 23 years outside Oregon weather had taken it's toll, he said.
"Native American Totem Poles are meant to be read. They have meaning," Marks said.
Marks explained the meaning of the pole shortly after the unveiling.
The pole is made of wood, and at the base as there is nothing carved on it, which represents the timber industry that Lebanon was founded on.
Above that is a beaver, which represents the community. At the top is a thunderbird, which represents a deity to watch over the community.
Laura Lewis, who was born and raised in Lebanon, stood outside a red ribbon tying of the park to the public, waiting for the plaza to open.
"I think (the park) is an amazing addition to our community," Lewis said.