Warner Park and Garden

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Year Established: 1987
Local Leaders: Wilma Scharrer and Georgie Yost
Community Group: Warner Park and Gardens Committee
NeighborSpace Partnership: 2001

Sometimes the actions of a single individual are enough to inspire an entire community. In the case of the creation of Warner Park and Gardens that catalyst was Lois Buenger, a longtime resident and educator in the North Center neighborhood. According to Wilma Scharrer, a member of the Warner Park and Gardens community group, Lois led by example when she countered a developer’s bid to build on an unused lot – a project that would have eliminated a 100-year-old ginkgo tree. Her energy and efforts rallied the entire neighborhood which, with the help of local businesses and organizations, including NeighborSpace, won ownership of the lot and laid the foundation for the creation of a community green space. “Her vision was of more than a garden,” Ms. Scharrer says of Lois. “The early fundraising efforts reflected the various individuals and groups who dreamt with her.”

Today Warner Park and Gardens has fulfilled Lois’ vision. Its shady expanse has hosted weddings, art shows and neighborhood gatherings – including the extremely popular kids Halloween party – and has developed over the years into a multipurpose community resource that truly everyone can enjoy. There was a time when the future of the Park was disputed, but when NeighborSpace became involved it confirmed the permanent existence of the Warner Park and Gardens. “NeighborSpace provided the security and continuity that the neighborhood needs,” Wilma says.

In Wilma’s Words: “I will always be proud of my friend, Lois Buenger, and what she did for this community.”

Best Practice Idea: Wilma advises that in order for a community-run green space to have longevity all the concerns of the neighbors are listened to and considered from the outset. “This is a changing neighborhood and many of the people who now enjoy the park probably don’t realize the valid and sincere concerns many neighbors had about the park or any park in a major metropolitan area – concerns about such things as crime, ongoing resources and maintenance.”