On a recent day at Greenfield Lake Park and Gardens, a group of young men found a clearing among the azalea bushes to kick a soccer ball. A woman with an iPod jogged by. And two boys pedaled their bicycles onto a gazebo built over the lake, looked at some paddleboaters for a few minutes, and then sped off down a path in an impromptu race.
A series of improvements at Wilmington’s first municipal park has made the area more user-friendly, certainly prettier and, perhaps, safer than the reputation it still holds among many locals. The Wilmington City Council voted Tuesday to designate the park and gardens a local historic landmark. And a crowning moment in the apparent renaissance will likely occur on April 8 when the Cape Fear Garden Club holds one of its biggest annual events there for the first time in the tour’s 58-year history.
“When they asked me if I would chair the garden tour in 2011, I said, ‘I will, but I would like to have the ribbon cutting at Greenfield Lake and cut the ribbon on the stage of the amphitheater,” said Gayle Ward, chairwoman of this year’s Azalea Garden Tour. “I think it’s the beauty spot of Wilmington. . . . And so many people don’t seem to know about it.”
But first, Ward and the rest of the Cape Fear Garden Club teamed up with area Rotary clubs to make the area more presentable, adding to work already completed by park employees.
“I said, ‘Folks, we’ve got company coming,'” she said.
Not long ago, the 200-acre Greenfield Lake Park and Gardens probably wouldn’t have been first on the list of locations for such an elegant ceremony. Vines were growing through azalea bushes, the amphitheater was all but abandoned and some high profile crimes there, including sexual assaults and murder, lingered in people’s minds. To read the full article, click here.