• Quality of Life

Key Initiative

Expand city-led programming and support other organizations’ efforts related to programming in City parks and other public spaces, including downtown.

Previous Initiative Next Initiative


Many communities realize the value of parks and public spaces and their economic impact within the community. Parks and public spaces come in all shapes and sizes. They can be strictly recreational, used to protect environmental and natural areas, or can simply be passive spaces.

They can be located in downtown Lebanon, adjacent to schools or within neighborhoods and can be linear greenways, small pocket parks or large neighborhood parks. Whatever their constitution, the best parks are designed for multi-use versatility. 

Successful parks and public spaces usually have five elements associated with them. They are engaging, adaptable, authentic, connected, and iconic. They should be designed to provide comfort, convenience, and enjoyment, fostering social interactions and physical connectivity. Moreover, good design creates visually appealing, interactive space that attracts people every dayyear round. It should also be adaptable to support a variety of programming.   

It is important for public spaces to also be authentic – celebrating the unique identity, heritage, and culture of Lebanon, while also contributing to the quality of life of a neighborhood or specific area within the city. Connections to the broader City system of sidewalks, bike paths, green spaces, streetscapes, and mixed use environments that connect neighborhoods, employment centers, and cultural districts are necessary.  And finally, they should be iconic, creating a unique and transformative experience where they shift the paradigm and redefine their neighborhood or community. 

While the intangible benefits of parks and public spaces are wonderful for people’s quality of life, there are quantifiable economic benefits in return on investment and a city’s tax base. As CityLab noted in its “Why We Pay More for Walkable Neighborhoods,” (https://www.citylab.com/life/2012/05/why-you-pay-more-walkable-neighborhoods/2122/)  if your home is located within a walkable area and near a park, the value will likely go up by $81.54 per square foot. According to Americans for the Arts’ “Arts & Economic Prosperity III” report, parks and public spaces that incorporate local heritage and art will attract more tourists, while also promoting a sense of pride and connection for residentsFor every dollar invested, there is generally a $7 return on the investment.  

Amenity infrastructure is so critical that it helps potentially undesirable areas transform into hubs of activity and redevelopment. In many cases, the creation of any park space or public space on a vacant or under-utilized parcel can lead to new residential, mixed-use or retail area around these sites, all of which increase the quality of life for residents and visitors to that community. 

Activating Lebanon’s parks and public spaces goes beyond the physical design elements by incorporating interactive programming. Many communities engage residents and attract tourists with performing artsfood trucks, fitness workouts, and dance parties.  Often, local governments do not have the capacity or funding to dedicate staff to work on programming; therefore, partnerships between a downtown association, parks department, neighborhood associations, scouts, and other not-for-profit organizations are critical to creating and managing an events program. 



  • More active parks and public spaces. 
  • More attendees enrolled in parks programs. 
  • Increased number of events within downtown. 
  • Increased number of events at select parks.



  1. Identify under-utilized parks and public spaces and determine if design enhancements are needed. 
  2. Ensure there are sidewalks or trails connecting neighborhoods to the park or public space to allow for safe passage from the neighborhoods. 
  3. Work with the parks department/not-for-profit/businesses to ensure a continuous cycle of planning, implementation, evaluation, and modification of programs and services for parks and public spaces 
  4. Identify programming that can occur each season on a yearly basis 
    • Encourage stewardship with park and public space clean-up campaigns 
    • Implement a community gardening program 
    • Consider a fun run or a 5k running event 
    • Continue the BBQ Festival 
    • Organized sports 
    • Yoga in the park 
    • Food trucks 
    • Ice skating 
    • Movies in the park 
  5. Promote intergenerational programming through outdoor activities, education, community service, and more. 
  6. Conduct an internal assessment of park department programs to determine what works well, what is missing, and what is desired.  This internal assessment should be completed every 2 to 3 years. 
  7. Periodically survey organizational partners and users to rate satisfaction and identify gaps and opportunities.



  1. Develop a network of volunteers that can assist with events or offer unique talents, including nature tours, bird watching, gardening, storytelling, puppet shows, etc. 
  2. Study the feasibility of developing a Lebanon parks foundation to fund programming and design enhancements at parks. 
  3. Partner with a not-for-profit organization or hire a full-time staff person to program for Lebanon’s parks and public spaces. 
  4. Work with Lebanon schools to develop a class that provides opportunities for students to explore and learn about nature through photography, outdoor education, and creative expression through recreation. 
  5. Work with schools, universities, community colleges, businesses, and community organizations to develop park-based curriculum and programming.



  • Parks Department 
  • The Heart of Lebanon 
  • Business Owners 
  • Common Council 
  • The Community Foundation of Boone County 
  • Center Stage Community Theater 
  • Black Box Theater Company 
  • Lebanon School Corporation