Santa Claus returned to Americus this year to help light the community tree in Rylander Park, a downtown greenspace that was renovated and better connected to neighboring businesses through a collaboration with the Archway Partnership.

The economic revitalization project also improved pedestrian flow from the park to Lenny’s Market, a nearby farmers market, to create an enhanced gathering space and focal point on the west side of the central business district.
The Archway Partnership collaborated on the project with the Americus Downtown Development Authority (DDA), the UGA College of Environment and Design, and Agrium Inc., an agricultural products company with a facility in this southwest Georgia city.

Graduate students from the College of Environment and Design developed a master plan to renovate Rylander Park, taking into account parking, greenspace, a water feature and pedestrian flow. The plan focused on improving connectivity from park through municipal parking lots to Lenny’s Market, as well as installing pedestrian-friendly lighting, sidewalks and street trees.

Agrium donated $26,000 through its “Growing Together” campaign to help pay for a fountain and benches for Rylander Park, and tents, tables and signage for Lenny’s Market.

The park is now more frequently utilized for social events and became the official site for Santa visits and the community tree. The market now features raised-bed gardens maintained by local garden clubs, new banners, and planting boxes.

The renovation and connectivity project was featured in October at the National Outreach Scholarship Conference at the University of Alabama, said Barbara Grogan, Archway Partnership Professional for Sumter County.