Mayor Chris Beutler today thanked the Abel family and other donors for their contributions toward renovating the historic Hazel Abel Park at 18th and "E" streets. The $230,000 project was mostly funded by donations from the Abel Foundation, the Lincoln Parks Foundation and the Lincoln Cares program.
In 1982, Alice Abel led the development of the park as a tribute to her mother Hazel Hempel Abel and as gift to the residents of Lincoln. Alice had donated the land for the park in 1969 and selected many of the park features, including the ornate wrought iron fence and gates, the renaissance-style gazebo and the antique baroque cherub fountain.
"When this 'little jewel park' needed updating, the Abel family was there again to make sure this gift would keep on giving to the community for years to come," Beutler said. "With their help and the help of others, we have preserved this unique setting in an amazing neighborhood for future generations to enjoy."
The project included the restoration of the park's signature features — the fountain, ornamental lighting, fence and gates. The elephant topiaries were recreated in a permanent sculpture. The playground is now accessible to children of all abilities. Overgrown hedges were removed from the perimeter to improve safety, and additional hard surfaces were added near the gazebo for events. The park also has updated plantings and new benches. The renovation was mostly completed last fall, and final touches were added in the spring.
Hazel Abel graduated from the University of Nebraska in 1908 and had successful careers in education and business. She was active in many civic and statewide organizations and was particularly interested in education, politics, philanthropy and youth. She also has the distinction of being the first woman from Nebraska elected to serve in the U.S. Senate. In 1954, she completed the term of Dwight Griswold, who died in office. Alice Abel was one of five children born to Hazel and George P. Abel. Like her mother, she also was actively involved in many civic and philanthropic organizations with particular interest in the arts and nature.
Mayor Beutler also thanked the City Parks and Recreation Department, the City Urban Development Department, Nemaha Landscape Construction and Jensen Conservation Services for their work on the park.