The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

July 11, 2013

Carthage residents to be asked to cite park preferences

By Susan Redden

CARTHAGE, Mo. — Carthage residents will be asked to weigh in on what they want for the city’s parks system in a “visioning” program set to begin in the fall.

The effort will involve students from Drury University in Springfield. A student group earlier worked with Carthage officials, business representatives and other volunteers to develop recommendations for the downtown area.

Mayor Mike Harris and Tom Short, city administrator, met Thursday with Jay Garrott, director of the Drury Center for Community Students, which is part of the university’s school of architecture.

The meeting is to set the stage for an Aug. 21 city presentation to university students who will come to Carthage to conduct a study of city parks. The city council included a $5,500 allocation in this year’s budget to cover costs of the program.

“They’ll research the community, inventory what we have, develop presentations and identify alternative visions and concepts for discussion with the community,” Short said.

The program will involve a series of public meetings where Carthage residents will be asked for their recommendations and proposals for the city’s parks system.

“The idea is to get ideas from a lot of different perspectives,” he said. “A lot of people came together for the downtown plan, and the hope is we can get a big turnout of people interested in the parks at these meetings.”

The students will use their research and input from studies and public comments to develop suggested concepts for park development.

“This isn’t a comprehensive plan, this is working on a vision for the parks that can set the parameters for future plans,” Short said.

The city recently completed several park projects that figure into the annual budget, which went into effect July 1. A skate park was built in Griggs Park in 2011, a 12-hole disc golf course just opened at Kellogg Lake Park, and planning is under way for a bike trail in the Walnut Bottoms property not far from Kellogg Lake.

“Long-term, we’d like to connect Kellogg Lake to the bike trail and then to Ruby Jack trail and create a corridor,” Short said. “The budget has more money for parks maintenance this year, and funding for the design of the bike trail and resurfacing of some parks entrances.”

Public services

Parks and park programs are overseen by the Carthage council’s public services committee, which makes recommendations to the council about funding and operations. The committee meets  at 5:15 p.m. the first Monday of each month, usually in the parks office in Municipal Park.