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LAKE PARK IS GOING FOR THE NATURAL LOOK

LAKE PARK IS GOING FOR THE NATURAL LOOK

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Lake Daniel Park is going back to nature in a joint effort by neighborhood residents, a wildlife group and city officials.

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Lake Daniel Park is going to get a new look, especially the stream that ripples through the popular neighborhood park near downtown Greensboro.

But the new look actually will be an old one.Neighbors, city park officials and a wildlife group want to let North Buffalo Creek go back to nature, at least partly.

They want to end dredging and excessive mowing along the banks.

The idea is to plant native vegetation for flood control and ground cover for small animals. Neighborhood residents will do some of the landscaping work, using plans drawn by the city Parks and Recreation Department. Dredging has weakened the stream's banks and lowered its water quality, said Bill Payne, a resident of the Lake Daniel neighborhood and member of the T. Gilbert Pearson chapter of the Audubon Society.

Continual mowing kept nature from repairing the damage, said Payne, whose Audubon group also is participating in the project.

``I don't want anyone to freak out and say, 'Gosh, they're taking away the place where my kid plays soccer,' ' Payne said. ``We're adding, not taking away.'

The plan also includes planting trees and bushes in other parts of the park to screen traffic and electrical equipment from view.

Plantings along the stream will grow close to the ground and not require maintenance.

The concept will be tested first in a small area near the intersection of Smith Street and Benjamin Parkway, Payne said.

City park officials hope the partnership becomes a model for other neighborhoods facing similar problems with community parks.

The Lake Daniel plan has the added benefit of cutting the summertime workload for city mowing crews, according to Bonnie Kuester, city parks director.

Paula Davis, a member of the Lake Daniel Neighborhood Association's board of directors, said the proposal doesn't mean letting the stream go completely wild.

``I don't think people in the neighborhood are just ready to let everything go totally back to nature,' Davis said.

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