Construction of a naturalistic park in the southeast corner of 26th Street and McClelland Boulevard should begin this fall. The proposed park will be located on land that was part of the former location of St. John’s Regional Medical Center and was donated to the city by Mercy Hospital.
Design options for the approximate 16 acres include developing the park as an open green space with passive activities, including an interpretive nature trail, a small lake and pavilion. The lake is scenic as well as functional by addressing water quality issues and providing storm water retention, which will help mitigate downstream flooding in the area during large rain events. Park options were completed by Deloitte Consulting and SWT Designs.
Trail connectivity will be developed to nearby Cunningham Park and adjacent facilities like South Middle School, the Ozark Center, currently under construction, and the new Kansas City University of Medical Biosciences recently announced.
“This will be a major enhancement and investment in this area of the community,” said Troy Bolander, director of planning, development, and neighborhood services. “With the residential and commercial growth occurring, this area will again experience much activity, and the park provides a unique attraction to the neighborhood.”
In addition, the park design considers citizens’ feedback gathered in the city’s 2010 and 2014 Parks and Recreation surveys, as well as citizen input endorsed by the city council as part of the Citizens Active in Recovery Team (CART) plan.
The city’s project manager Tony Robyn said, “Contrasted with the adjacent Cunningham Park and Pool that is full of activities and excitement for young children, this park area will be a natural place of healing, growth, and reflection, offering an opportunity to enjoy the surroundings, or simply stroll a trail through the beautifully landscaped vistas and shaded areas.”
The lake is part of the intention to restore a large water feature in Joplin; the one previously located in Parr Hill Park was lost due to the necessary redevelopment following the 2011 disaster. Robyn noted “The public loved that feature and this is an opportunity to bring something like it back.”
Funding for this $4.7 million project is provided by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery program. Construction will begin in fall 2015 with intention to be completed by May 2016. The new park will incorporated into the Parks and Recreation Department and a public naming contest will be announced at a later date