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Keeley Park updates – including a giant playground – are almost ready

Keeley Park updates – including a giant playground – are almost ready

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GREENSBORO — Brace yourselves, Greensboro. You’re about to get a favorite new spot.

Greensboro Parks and Recreation is putting the finishing touches on Up in the AIR (Adaptive and Inclusive Recreation), the city’s first fully accessible playground. Pair it with the other upgrades opening soon at Keeley Park, and this northeast Greensboro regional park could become a favorite outdoor retreat.

This second phase of Keeley Park development at 4110 Keeley Road in McLeansville is one of the many improvements Parks and Recreation has been working on in 2020.

Up in the AIR

Construction crews recently poured the final slabs of the squishy, colorful surface of Up in the AIR. There are still swings and zip lines that need to be installed, and landscaping to finish.

But it’s already clear: this is going to be a spectacular playground.

Up in the AIR will be among the largest playgrounds in Greensboro and the largest accessible playground in this part of North Carolina. It has six slides, five spinning elements, three zip lines, cargo nets and plenty of places to climb.

It’s designed for all bodies and abilities. It’s got a merry-go-round and a tower you can roll into with a wheelchair. There is a bouncy toy with seats built in so it can be enjoyed by people who might have difficulty holding themselves upright. The squishy surface is a soft place to fall, and a safe place to travel with walking aids. There is also a new handicapped parking lot adjacent to the playground.

Gloriously — for parents and caregivers — there are numerous spots to park, sit and enjoy the shade. Plus, there are two new adjacent picnic shelters.

Parks and Recreation expects to announce an official opening date in the coming weeks.

New amenities park-wide

The playground might get all the hype, but this phase of park development has a little something for everybody.

For fitness buffs, there is a new Thrive 450 outdoor fitness center near the park entrance. It’s essentially an adult jungle gym, with bars, ladders and platforms for all manner of body weight exercises. You can work out legs, core and upper body — no gym membership required.

For the green thumbs, the community garden is now bigger. It has a 1,000-plus-square-foot deck to be used for teaching classes or other gatherings. The staff has built raised flower beds, which will make it easier to teach classes and invite gardeners who have difficulty bending.

“By next spring we should have these installed and ready to plant,” said Julie Hale, who manages the community garden.

If you’re more of a sit-back-and-chill kind of person, the new cornhole court might be for you. Once it’s complete, there will be swinging benches for spectators and boards to track the score.

And just pick your spot, if you need a moment of meditation.

“There are a multitude of additional benches that will be put throughout the park,” said Shawna Tillery, the planning and project development division manager for Greensboro Parks and Recreation.

Other park projects

Keeley isn’t the only park that features new places to play and exercise.

  • To the east, Barber Park’s new outdoor basketball court is now open. It has been named in honor of Ken Free Sr., a local athlete and longtime sports advocate.
  • To the south, the four-acre Westbury Park has a new play area and walking trail. The playground has a swinging seesaw and saucer swing built for a family, plus three spinners. This project was funded through the city’s participatory budgeting program, which lets area residents decide how to spend city dollars.
  • To the southwest, Hester Park has a new six-piece fitness center nestled under the trees near its soccer field, with cargo nets, wobbly bridge, climbing walls and monkey bars. This project was also funded by participatory budgeting.

Also in the works: a celebration of trees at Gateway Gardens.

The nonprofit Greensboro Beautiful has broken ground on the first phase of the planned white oak forest feature. The first giant timbers have been installed for a tree house that will wrap around the base of 50-foot trees and overlook the future wedding garden.

Lynne Leonard, with City Beautiful, said the $80,000 project is funded by donations.

Amanda Lehmert is a senior communications specialist with the City of Greensboro. She can be reached at

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