Monday, April 15, 2024

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City formally inaugurates arboretum at Willowbrook Park


Scores of people descended on Burlington’s Willowbrook Park on Wednesday afternoon to mark the substantive completion of a picturesque arboretum that has sprouted on the park’s grounds over the past couple of years.

An initiative of the nonprofit New Leaf Society, whose mission is to beautify Burlington and surrounding communities, the arboretum has largely been funded through private donations from local businesses, organizations, and individual philanthropists.

These contributions ultimately bankrolled a capacious picnic shelter with restrooms that served as the backdrop for Wednesday’s ceremony, as well as a nearby children’s “garden” and play area, a stately veterans overlook, and a panorama of trees, shrubs, flower beds, and specialty gardens that fill the park’s grounds.

In the meantime, the city has installed a series of walkways that connect all these features together as they crisscross the park’s eponymous creek.

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The fruits of this public-private partnership were on full display during Wednesday’s event, which began with some introductory remarks from Burlington’s mayor pro tem Harold Owen and city council member Kathy Hykes.

Also on hand to expound on the success of this venture was the New Leaf Society’s founder Allen E. Gant, Jr., who has also been one of the arboretum’s primary benefactors.

Following these speeches, Gant joined his municipal counterparts for a ceremonial ribbon cutting along one of the park’s walkways. Then, as crowd of other dignitaries assembled behind them, Owen and Hykes maneuvered a set of enormous novelty shears into position and snipped through a blue ribbon to symbolically declare the Willowbrook Arboretum open to all.

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