There’s such a thing as a midday slump, but Thursday afternoon at Meadowlark Hills’ newly opened entertainment courtyard was hardly sleepy. With a live music performance featuring local artists underway and a snack buffet on the opposite end, those living in the retirement community enjoyed a fun, relaxing afternoon.
The courtyard, outside of Meadowlark’s community center, officially opened July 16. The wide, modern space includes a fire pit, pavilion, bocce ball and putting green areas, a bar, several seating areas and room for residents to walk around the perimeter. Custom back-lit metal panels featuring Kansas imagery also line parts of the fencing. The pieces were created by Perry-based artist Danny Munck.
Sarah Duggan, community relations director, said the space will allow Meadowlark to expand the types of programs it offers, as well as let residents unwind at their own pace at a central location. The update started in late fall of last year after the old courtyard, which consisted of grass and walking paths, was torn up during another renovation project.
“We thought, ‘Let’s take this opportunity to see if we can raise the funds and create a nice outdoor space that people can benefit from,’” Duggan said. “I think it just deepens the things we can offer as far as quality of life. We thought this would be a good place to create an outdoor space that is accessible to everybody.”
Joanne Barkyoumb, 87, said she was one of the first Meadowlark Hills board members when the community first opened in 1980. Barkyoumb said she has seen the facility change and grow over its nearly 40-year existence, and the new courtyard adds to what Meadowlark can offer to residents.
“People were coming in from all over the country to see what we were doing because (Meadowlark) was one of the first (senior living communities) where people could live here and participate in the activities that go on here,” Barkyoumb said. “Something like this, it’s nice being able to come out here.”
Nancy Prawl, 88, said she enjoys the ease and accessibility of getting around the courtyard, and she could see herself and her husband, Warren, take advantage of the sheltered pavilion, which would allow them to stay outside longer during the summer and winter months.
“Before we couldn’t get out, we were just stuck inside (the game room),” Prawl said. “It’s a lovely little room, but it was like a living room, confining. I remember developing a very small group of friends, but it wasn’t a kind of space that would allow me to meet new people. There was not a large area where people come and go.”
Others residents agreed that the courtyard provided new opportunities for residents and the community.
“I think it’s spectacular,” Kip Williams, 88, said. “I think people in the city are going to use this to have functions where you can bring a lot of people in and enjoy being outside. I just think it’s going to be terrific.”