ARLINGTON — "At least now everyone will know where Lebanon Park is," laughed Mike Conner, the Arlington Garden Club treasurer who's maintained the small and often-forgotten park on the southwest end of Olympic Avenue, as a decorative sign designating the property was unveiled on Wednesday, Oct. 16.
As the Arlington Garden Club heads into its 80th year, it's returned to its roots by honoring one of the club's first pet projects, since its members had transformed the unkempt lot bordering Lebanon Street into a green lawn, complete with shrubs and flowers, by the summer of 1934.
Before Conner became the unofficial caretaker of the property four years ago, it had fallen into disrepair again, and the city needed the Garden Club's assistance in restoring it to something like its former glory.
"I accidentally volunteered," laughed Conner, who's since enlisted his wife Diane into helping him out.
"This is yet another example of the absolutely wonderful culture of this city," said Arlington Mayor Barbara Tolbert, who joined the Arlington Garden Club for the sign's unveiling. "They're really taken ownership of this corner and helped transform it into a beautiful little pocket. Between the art stones, the labyrinth and the upkeep of the grounds, it keeps changing for the better. The people who pass through on Centennial Trail are lucky to see it."
Tolbert recalled meeting with German exchange students at Arlington High School earlier that day, and found their praise for the landscape of America reflected in Lebanon Park.
"Where they come from, there's just not a lot of nature left," Tolbert said. "When they come here, they're blown away, and tell me, 'You have forests around your houses.' We keep nature close in Arlington."
Camano Island sign artist Ruth Westra created the Lebanon Park sign, carving it out of wood and adorning it with a simple yet elegant floral motif.
"The Garden Club is really dedicated to this community," Arlington Garden Club President Meg Jacobsen said. "There's a lot of good feelings about Arlington in this club. We're just so grateful to Mike and Diane for spearheading the upkeep of Lebanon Park, and we're very pleased with the artwork of the new sign. This will definitely enhance downtown Arlington."