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Mayor's Office

2004 Media Releases

May 7, 2004
For More Information Contact:
Diane Gonzolas, Citizen Information Center, 441-7831
Lynn Johnson, Parks and Recreation Department, 441-8265
Susan Larson Rodenburg, Parks and Recreation Foundation, 421-1401 or 440-3227

Sunken Gardens Campaign Reaches Goal
Construction to begin this month

Mayor Coleen J. Seng and the Lincoln Parks and Recreation Foundation announced today that the $1.7 million fund-raising goal of the Sunken Gardens Renovation Project has been reached. Construction on the Gardens at 27th and Capitol Parkway is expected to begin in the next few weeks.

"When we launched this campaign a year ago, we were confident the citizens of Lincoln would respond generously, and they again showed their pride in our parks system," said Mayor Seng. "I want to thank everyone who donated to this important project and the Lincoln Parks and Recreation Foundation for taking the lead and partnering with the City to make this a reality. This is another example of what private and public partnerships can accomplish in Lincoln."

About $50,000 for the project came from the Lincoln Cares voluntary donation program, which gives Lincoln Electric System customers the opportunity to donate one a dollar a month for Parks and Recreation Department improvements.

The Sunken Gardens were built as a Depression-era public works project during the winter of 1930 on an abandoned neighborhood dump site. The project to repair and update the aging infrastructure is the first major renovation of the Sunken Gardens. It includes a new handicapped-accessible entrance, an entry pavilion, a restored cascading water feature, new sculptural elements, restrooms, maintenance storage, renovated lily pools, an automated irrigation system and lighting.

Roger and JeNeane Dodson and Mike Seacrest of Lincoln chaired the campaign for the Lincoln Parks and Recreation Foundation. The Clark Enersen Partners designed the project after soliciting suggestions from the community and City officials. Sampson Construction of Lincoln will manage the renovation project. The Gardens will be closed to the public during the construction, which is scheduled to be completed by the end of November. A celebration rededicating the renovated Sunken Gardens is planned for spring 2005.

"With this renovation, we will increase the safety and accessibility of Sunken Gardens and preserve this important part of our history for future generations to enjoy," said City Parks and Recreation Director Lynn Johnson. "While the Gardens are closed, the public is invited to enjoy the additional display flower beds planted at the Rotary Garden just east of the Sunken Gardens across 27th Street."

The Gardens are the only Nebraska site listed in the "300 Best Gardens to Visit in the U.S. and Canada" in the National Geographic Guide to America’s Public Gardens.

Lincoln Parks and Recreation Foundation President Clancy Woolman said two programs, "Paving the Path" and "One Flower Forever," will continue to allow donors to honor friends and loved ones at the Sunken Gardens. All funds from these programs will be placed in a Sunken Gardens endowment account, which will eventually support ongoing operations and maintenance of the Gardens. Since they were launched last October, the programs have collected about $110,000. More information on these programs and the renovation project can be found at

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