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Mural Park sits between the future home of Conversion Brewing and Hollywood Studios.

As Lebanon’s 2040 Vision takes shape, a committee is using some of the community’s input to decide how an outdated park can be revitalized.

The Mural Park committee held its first meeting on April 20 to begin discussions about how the city could revitalize Mural Park, 847 Main St.

“It’s not a pretty or attractive place,” said Paul Aziz, mayor of Lebanon. “It’s not inviting to anybody.”

Some of the trees are nice, but the shrubs are prickly and the park is mostly hardscaping, he said.

Hardscaping is a landscape feature comprised mostly of paved areas and structures. The committee wants to make the park more inviting, with features that add a sense of softness to the environment.

“It needs to be a place where you can be kissed, a place where people can go and fall in love,” said Shelly Garrett, executive director at the Lebanon Chamber of Commerce.

Softscaping sets the mood for people to be happy and not rushed, to feel comfortable and safe, she added. Water features and places to sit are some elements that would contribute to a healthy, active downtown area for Lebanon.

When discussing how to improve the park, the committee’s discussion revolved around wanting to make it represent both the community and the past, Aziz said. Logging and strawberries were among the most important subjects.

As the group brainstormed ideas, a common theme emerged and they unanimously agreed to suggest the city council rename the park “Strawberry Park,” Aziz said.

In general, the committee wants the park to draw people in, be accessible and safe, and possibly have a covering so it can operate 365 days a year.

“It should incorporate the arts and history of both the park and the community,” Aziz said.

That’s important because as the 2040 Vision is being created, many people are expressing interest in the arts, seeing Lebanon as a friendly community, he said.

“What better place than a gathering place where everybody can hang out and have a Coke or a beer?” Aziz said.

Ideas for what might be included in the park were a fountain created by a local artist, a kiosk that displays the history of murals in that park, a stage area, patio lights, and art panels.

City Manager Gary Marks suggested rotating local art on the walls as a replacement for the murals, Aziz said. Local artists could display their work on 12 panels that would be changed with another artist’s work after a year.

“So you rotate one panel every month so that people who come are always seeing new things,” Aziz said.

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The committee also discussed whether the totem pole should be moved.

“The wood is really cracked, it’s split way open,” Aziz said. “I don’t know if moving it would ruin it, but it’s not in good condition. It’s either a hazard, or we move it and try to refurbish it.”

The committee will try to contact the group that erected the totem pole before making any decisions, he said.

“Cheadle Lake seems to be a really natural place for that, if we were going to move it,” Aziz added. “There’s really not a lot down there, and they’re trying to build that out. I think it would be a neat entranceway, and it’s woodsy.”

City staff will work with an architect to design an idea that incorporates what was discussed at the meeting, he said. When that’s complete, the committee will meet again to look over the plans.

After a design is agreed upon, the committee will present their ideas and suggestions to the city council.

Mural Park is located downtown between Conversion Brewing, which is expected to open in a few months, and Hollywood Studios.

Contact Lebanon Express news writer Sarah Brown at 541-259-3125, or via email at Sarah.Brown@lee.net.

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