Rose Run Park a staple during pandemic

Sarah Sole
ThisWeek group
Lori Bower leads a yoga class at Rose Run Park on Sept. 28. The class is organized by Healthy New Albany. Rose Run Park has been used for several outdoor activities during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

Since the summer months, Healthy New Albany programs have had something of a bonus for the senses: Participants can feel the breeze, hear the leaves rustling and smell the open air, said executive director Angela Douglas.

Nature, she said, changes one’s perspective. 

“It’s transformational,” she said.

Through summer and into fall, the bulk of the nonprofit’s programs have been outside, Douglas said. Most have been held at Rose Run Park, and the remainder have been held outside at the Philip Heit Center for Healthy New Albany and on private property, she said.

The organization’s use of Rose Run Park is just one example of how the space is being used as groups creatively find ways to maintain safety during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

Douglas said the pandemic played into Healthy New Albany's decision to hold programs at Rose Run Park. As a public-health agency, the organization wanted to both set an example and do the right thing regarding safely operating during the pandemic, she said.

“Outside seemed to be the preference,” she said.

Rose Run Park’s proximity led them there, Douglas said. Rose Run Park is part of the Rose Run stream corridor that runs mostly parallel to Dublin-Granville Road through New Albany, and it is across Dublin-Granville from the New Albany-Plain Local School District campus.

Staff members found a flat area under a giant oak tree that was perfect for programs, she said. It is near the bridge connecting the Heit Center parking lot to the park, she said.

Such programs as Urban Zen and Yoga in the Park have been held there, Douglas said.

Barb Carruthers of New Albany participates in a yoga class at Rose Run Park on Sept. 28. The class is organized by Healthy New Albany. Rose Run Park has been used for several outdoor activities during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

As weather permits, Healthy New Albany will continue to use the park.  

Douglas said chair yoga would continue through October, and mindful nature walks would be held year-round, she said.

Late this month and into early next, Healthy New Albany will look to local churches to help bring events indoors, with smaller-sized classes than normal, she said.

The park is a relatively new option for programs and events.

The revitalized 8-acre Rose Run Park opened in late 2019, and it is open daily to residents, said New Albany spokesman Scott McAfee.

Related story:Rose Run Park opens for New Albany residents

Amenities include a children’s play area, a birch walk, trails and bridges, wildflowers, sitting areas, a place for simple bicycle maintenance and the Marx Library Garden, he said.

Although park use would have been substantial regardless of the pandemic, during these past six months, residents have looked for ways to get out of their homes, McAfee said.

“Exercising and going to local parks is one of those ways,” he said.

The park would have been dedicated at this year’s New Albany Founders Day festival, which was canceled because of the pandemic, McAfee said. The city rescheduled it for Founders Day in 2021, which will include a Rose Run 5K planned by Healthy New Albany, he said.

Although Founders Day was canceled, Rose Run Park became home to another annual event that was able to be salvaged.

On Aug. 2, the New Albany Chamber of Commerce held its annual Taste of New Albany at Rose Run Park, but the event was smaller than in years past and featured socially distanced tables and vendors.

Chamber executive director Cherie Nelson said Rose Run Park’s size allowed the organization to spread out enough to pull off the small event. A small chamber committee also used the park as a meeting spot earlier in the summer, socially distanced and wearing masks, she said.

The chamber is discussing holding an outdoor arts and music festival at the park in 2021, Nelson said.

Becki Crowell of Galena participates in a yoga class at Rose Run Park on Sept. 28. The class is organized by Healthy New Albany. Rose Run Park has been used for several outdoor activities during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

Another community organization, the New Albany Symphony Orchestra, also used Rose Run Park to open its season Sept. 26.

Heather Garner, executive director of the symphony orchestra, said guidance from the state about audience sizes for shows came in early September. Organizers learned that each performance could only be at 15% capacity – 118 people at the Jeanne B. McCoy Community Center for the Arts, as opposed to the 786 people who typically attend shows, she said. 

Because organizers needed more time to plan how to hold their indoor performances safely, they delayed indoor shows until December, she said. Subscriptions still are on sale at newalbanysymphony.com.

Meanwhile, the Sept. 26 opening included three sold-out outdoor performances of "Aesop’s Fables" at the Marx Library Garden, Garner said.

It was the first time the musicians had been back together since March, she said.

“It was nice to get back together,” Garner said.

A summer season for the symphony orchestra also is planned next year at the park, she said.

ssole@thisweeknews.com 

@ThisWeekSarah

Lori Bower leads a yoga class at Rose Run Park on Sept. 28. The class is organized by Healthy New Albany. Rose Run Park has been used for several outdoor activities during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.