OPINION: Beauty in simplicity: App State’s underrated park

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Leah Boone

The sun hits foliage surrounding Boone Creek in Durham Park, located in the middle of App State’s campus.

Leah Boone, Opinion Writer

As a Mountaineer, it is second nature to enjoy the outdoors. Whether it be hammocking on Sanford Mall, hiking on the parkway or watching the sunset at an overlook, App State students are enamored with the nature surrounding. However, students tend to pass over a secluded and peaceful spot right on campus: Durham Park. While being one of the most tranquil places in Boone, Durham Park is highly underrated and underused by both students and faculty alike. 

Durham Park is located off Blowing Rock Road in between University Drive and Rivers Street. It includes a portion of Boone Creek as well as the Rivers Street tennis courts. Located in the middle of campus, Durham Park can be a place for lounging or studying. 

Sanford Mall is a hot spot for students and is fairly crowded essentially all day every day. While the mall looks straight out of a 2000s college movie, it may be a distracting place for students looking to do homework or study outside. There are often games being played, music blaring or even school-sponsored activities happening, potentially hindering a peaceful study space for some students. Located in a convenient location for both East and West side students, the park offers a calm space for whatever one may need it for. 

“I prefer it over Sanford because it’s usually less crowded and noisy and really makes you feel immersed in nature even being in the middle of Boone,” sophomore Alena Dastur said.

The weeping willow and other greenery alongside the sound of running water from Boone Creek offer a peaceful and calming scene for students waiting for their next class or otherwise alleviate stress.

While Durham Park is accessible to all, it is hardly used in comparison to Sanford Mall. Walking through the park both last week and this week, there were on average three or four students sitting in the park and one student walking their dog. On the other hand, walking past Sanford Mall never offers a dull site. After taking a poll, eight out of 10 App State students knew what Durham Park was, yet Sanford Mall is always a lot more crowded.

“I live on campus, so it’s easier to just walk over and sit on Sanford Mall,” freshman Alex Scab said. “I do like going places where it’s quieter, in between classes it’s just a lot easier to walk and sit on the lawn.”

The park is both an underused and underrated part of App State’s campus. Outdoor classes could be held there on a nice day, a group of students wanting to do yoga could set up in the park, or a student simply looking for a moment of peace in the stressful college atmosphere. One issue students have with Durham Park is that the Wi-Fi is a bit spotty in places; however, this could provide an opportunity for students to unplug and relax for a bit.

In a climate activism class with Michael Hambourger, multiple classes were held outside. The class met in a few different places around campus, but never Durham Park.

Honestly, I never thought of holding class in Durham Park,” Hambourger said. “It is a little further away than other spots on campus. It is more open grass and less hardscape, which means there are fewer stone walls to sit on, etcetera. There isn’t much shade. But, now that you ask, none of those are particularly good reasons not to consider the space. I could see teaching in Durham Park, or perhaps even asking Academic Affairs for more gazebo space for the same purpose.”

App State is one of the most naturally beautiful campuses in the country. With foliage surrounding and a creek running through it, Durham Park is the epitome of natural beauty. While it does not have the views of a hike on the Blue Ridge Parkway, it offers encompassing nature and a sense of tranquility while also being just a walk away.