Ten years in, Central Park has become community ‘focal point’Since Central Park opened in November 2002, it has hosted almost 400 weddings, hundreds of performances at its amphitheater and has seen thousands of smiling faces at its playground.
By: Riham Feshir, Woodbury Bulletin
Since Central Park opened in November 2002, it has hosted almost 400 weddings, hundreds of performances at its amphitheater and has seen thousands of smiling faces at its playground.
The indoor park has become an icon in Woodbury that draws hundreds of residents and visitors all year long.
Central Park, along with the R.H. Stafford Library, is celebrating its 10th anniversary this Saturday with entertainment and activities from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
“It’s become a focal point in the community,” Woodbury’s Parks and Recreation Director Bob Klatt said, adding, “It’s a central gathering space. You can see by how people use it.”
The idea to open an indoor park came from a citizens’ committee that was formed to find more ways for the community to get together.
“Whether it’d be through events, activities, places, that sort of thing,” Klatt said.
Then the idea to build an indoor year-round park came up and was eventually brought to the City Council for approval.
City officials continued to pursue it in a strategic plan to construct the building with a key focus on an indoor park, Klatt said.
At the same time the city was studying options for Central Park, Washington County had an interest in expanding its library system and finding a new location for a branch in Woodbury.
The two projects came together nicely: the city funded Central Park, while the county took on the library project.
“As we were going through that process, a couple of other opportunities presented themselves,” Klatt said.
The city of Woodbury and the YMCA ended up tying the whole building together to allow for a seamless connection between the two.
Then School District 833 officials came forward to see if the facility had space for the Early Childhood Family Education, Klatt said.
Stonecrest senior housing also wanted connection to Central Park and that’s when a skyway became an ideal way to tie those two facilities together, he added.
“It was a lot of partners, a lot of city, county, school district funding, and some private investment that helped build the facility,” Klatt said.
Another major feature that came with Central Park was the indoor playground Lookout Ridge.
The space has seen 300,000 children who climbed the structure since it opened in March 2003, according to numbers provided by the city.
Additionally, the amphitheater and meeting rooms have played host to various events and became a place where community groups can gather.
The number of customer visits increased by 50 percent, from 280,724 to 416,792 in 10 years, according to city figures.
The R.H. Stafford Library added 11,000 new card holders from Woodbury since 2002.
The number of items checked out from the library increased by more than 40 percent, from 627,466 to 906,548, according to the city’s analysis.
No major renovations or remodeling has been done to Central Park since, where 30 different species of trees and understory plants are featured.
“The landscape continues to do well, the playground continues to be very popular in the community,” Klatt said. “And the amphitheater continues to be used.”
The Saturday celebrations will kick off at 10 a.m. with Kenny Ahern who will provide a comic show in the amphitheater.
From 11:30 to 12:30 p.m. Tropical Ballroom will hold a dance lesson with Woodbury Royalty also in the amphitheater.
The “Name the Owl” contest winner will be announced at 1 p.m. at the Lookout Ridge Indoor Playground, although that event is subject to change.
“Home Free,” an a-capella group, will perform in the amphitheater from 2-3 p.m.
Face painting, a balloon artist and a magician will be around the park and library from 2-5 p.m.
During the celebration, Lookout Ridge Indoor playground will also be giving away prizes.