Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan Master Gardeners Coordinator Shirley Bohm, left, explores the gardens at Vine Park with her daughter Lisa Klein and grandson Ryder, 1, after the park reopened to the public in Loganville Thursday. Volunteers from the Gwinnett Master Gardeners Association and the Vines Garden Railroad contributed to the year-long $1.1 million renovation.
LAWRENCEVILLE -- Many Gwinnett parks feature a lake, but this may be the only one with an Italian statue.
Officials and residents celebrated Thursday as the gardens at Vines Park reopened to the public after a $1.1 million renovation.
The statues weren't part of that price tag. They were part of the mansion and gardens, located on Oak Grove Road in Loganville, donated to the county government two decades ago.
At first, county commission Chairwoman Charlotte Nash said, county staffers like herself weren't sure how to operate a park so different from the typical county collection of ballfields.
But over the years, with a lease agreement to manage the mansion, which hosts corporate events and weddings year-round, leaders created a new kind of recreational area, complete with heirloom roses, a Japanese garden and a miniature railroad.
"This is a wonderful property. We were very fortunate to have it donated to the county," said Nash, who worked as the county finance director when the donation was made. "We still wouldn't be making it without the volunteers ... that make the place very, very special."
The year-long renovations to trails and footpaths built originally for the residents increase accessibility to the public, showing off the work of volunteers from the Gwinnett Master Gardeners Association and the Vines Garden Railroad.
Shirley Bohm, who lives nearby, joins the master gardeners group every Tuesday.
"It really makes it our own park, when you work hard. It's that sweat equity," she said, mentioning some of her favorite blooms, including the mystery plant the group lovingly calls "plantus anonymous."
"It's just really peaceful and gorgeous," Bohm said.