Stopping to Smell the Herbs

Lions sensory park offers a little something for everyone

Whether it is a Lions’ or a Boy Scouts’ meeting, a wedding reception, a picnic for the visually impaired, or a person renting crutches from a medical closet, Five Senses Park in Wheatfield, New York is certainly a community hub.

People gather under pavilion
The pavilion is one of many popular amenities at the Lion-owned , Five Senses Park in New York.

The 14-acre park is owned by the Town of Wheatfield Lions Club, which purchased it in the early 1970s. Boasting beds planted with fragrant herbs and flowers and rustling trees, a clubhouse, pavilion, gazebo, pergola, and lake, it is designed to enable people with visual impairments to enjoy nature through scent, touch, and sound.

The park also has a medical closet stocked with walkers, crutches, and other medical equipment available for rent free of charge to people in the community.

Lion Walter Garrow says the club’s idea decades ago to purchase land for a park to serve the visually impaired and the greater community was visionary, and it has served that mission well over the last several decades.

When it comes to the park and its future, however, The Wheatfield Lions Club, is not resting on its laurels. They recently have completed a host of improvements to the park, including to its clubhouse, and have plans for more.

“We’ve been enhancing our facilities to better serve our community,” Garrow says.

The recent improvements include a new commercial-grade kitchen, new tables and chairs, central heat and air conditioning and new indoor and outside lighting that was funded by a grant from the National Grid Foundation.

Those improvements have enabled the club to increase the events that are held there, which include weddings, graduation parties, and family celebrations.

“We’ve taken it from ‘Let’s get a little stove donated from somebody’s kitchen because they don’t need it anymore’ and we’ve upgraded the kitchen to a service-style kitchen for rentals,” Garrow says.

With those improvements, the park facilities are rented more often which generates funds for the club. The events also raise awareness of what the Lions do for the community.

“People learn a lot about Lions by using our facilities,” says Garrow. “Inevitably, once in a while, someone will say ‘You do a lot of good service for people in need,’ and they will give us a donation. It fuels a cycle and builds benefits for the Lions.”

The club is currently raising funds for other improvements including a universal design playground, a sensory path,18 aromatic sensory planting stations, and an accessible deck overlooking the lake for fishing.

One of the regular visitors to the park is Alex Guido, 16, of nearby Sanborn. He, along with other volunteers from a local church who recently repainted the park’s entry sign, have been working to improve the park.

Guido, who is a member of Troop 833 of Wheatfield, recently completed his Eagle Scout project at the park which entailed painting the gazebo and the timbers enclosing flower beds.

Guido is familiar with the park because his troop holds their meetings there, and he wanted to be part of improving it.

“I knew it would really help the park out,” he says. “It would beautify it and make it really pretty because lots of people go there and there a lots of events there like weddings and parties. I wanted to make it really nice.”