It’s Saturday morning and the Lebanon Green is unusually crowded with people in green t-shirts, leggings or headbands with shamrocks, and elf hats. They are participants in Lebanon Recreation, Arts & Parks’ annual Shamrock Shuffle, a 5K road race and 1-mile fun run to benefit park development, special projects, and adult and youth programs.
Alice Peck Day Memorial Hospital is a sponsor of this event, and works with Lebanon Recreation, Arts & Parks on a variety of recreation programs, special events, and developing the city’s open space for the community’s use and enjoyment.
“I’ve been with Lebanon Recreation for more than 21 years, and the history between the two organizations predates me,” said Paul Coats, director.
He mentions a program called Savvy Seniors, which started as a collaboration with APD, CCBA, and the Upper Valley Senior Center. “The purpose was to get seniors, 55 and better, active both inside and outside,” Coats said. “The program, which includes hikes on trails and field trips, is still happening at Lebanon Rec today.”
In 2010, when work started on the Mascoma River Greenway Coalition, both Lebanon Recreation and Alice Peck Day Memorial Hospital were at the table. The Mascoma River Greenway (MRG), a 4-mile multi-use pathway which opened in 2018, is the core transportation corridor for bikes and pedestrians between Lebanon and West Lebanon.
“The MRG was a city project, but APD had a leadership role,” Coats said. “The coalition met on APD campus every two weeks. APD gifted a parking lot on the hospital campus, the city paved it, then APD established a connector from the parking lot to the greenway.”
The partnership between Lebanon Recreation and APD continues today. The APD campus offers three nature trails free to the community for four-season non-motorized use.
“Lebanon Recreation grooms the trails for cross country skiing, hiking, and snowshoeing in the winter,” Coats said. “A groomed surface actually helps hikers, too. What’s nice is that the trails have a culture of multigenerational usage — you’ll see neighbors, Lifecare residents, high school students, and APD staff members using the nature trails.”
The goal of every initiative: to improve the health and well-being of the community.
“In Lebanon, there is such a desire for a quality of life for all residents. Our goal as a recreation department for the city goes way beyond traditional programs teaching kids to play sports,” Coats said. “We provide something for everyone from excellent programming to park systems to public art displays. All of these initiatives have roots in collaborative work.”