The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

May 2011 Joplin tornado

March 14, 2013

Rebuilding after tornado damage, Joplin parks get ready for spring

JOPLIN, Mo. — Today’s temperatures in the 70s invariably will attract some area residents to local parks for some summer-like recreation.

Winter can be a downtime for park systems. Crews generally catch up on maintenance and prepare to shift into high gear in the spring.

That’s hardly the case for the Joplin Parks and Recreation Department, which is overseeing the construction of a new swimming pool complex, directing the rehabilitation and upgrading of parks damaged by the May 2011 tornado, and helping with the planting of thousands of trees to replace those destroyed in the storm.

Chris Cotten, Joplin parks director, is quick to point out that park improvements have been boosted by generosity from volunteers and organizations throughout Missouri and nationwide.

In fact, one new city park in southwest Joplin was developed entirely by volunteers. Ceremonies set for 11 a.m. today will celebrate volunteer efforts in the park located in the Cedar Ridge subdivision near 28th Street off South Country Club Drive.

“The city was given the property, but with all that we were doing after the tornado, we didn’t have the money or manpower to take it on,” Cotten said. “Then all these other groups just stepped forward.”

Officials and volunteers from the Missouri Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church will be on hand today to dedicate a park shelter that church volunteers constructed, with funding by the church group’s Office of Creative Ministries.

“We’ve done a lot of work on homes and with families, but we wanted to do a community project as well,” said Dan Steska, disaster response coordinator for the statewide church group.

A new playground was constructed by CrossWay Bible Church of Blue Springs.

Another park that has received boundless help in donations and volunteer labor was seeing a lot of activity on Thursday.

At Cunningham Park, some adults were having lunch or walking on trails. The action was at the Boomtown play area, which was being swarmed by children enjoying ramps, slides and the climbing wall.

Amy Obermiller, of Joplin, watched as 5-year-old son Grady took advantage of a pole to slide down from the structure.

“He wants to be a fireman,” she said.

Obermiller said there’s much in the park for children to enjoy. She said she remembers sitting with Grady under big shade trees in the park before the tornado.

“I miss the trees, but the kids don’t seem to mind,” she said.

The city has planted 161 new trees in the park, to memorialize the 161 lives lost in the tornado.

Andrew Clemmons, of Joplin, was at the park with Cassie, his 19-month-old daughter. He said she likes the slides.

More improvements are planned at Cunningham, Cotten said, including a rose garden, additional parking and another leg of the walking trail.

“We’re just finishing the last picnic shelter there,” he said.

Construction is under way on a $5.8 million pool at Schifferdecker Park. The complex will include two diving boards, four water flumes, a climbing wall, a log roll and a lazy river, and will accommodate competition swimming as the home of the Joplin Swim Team.

Renovations also are under way at Parr Hill and Garvin parks.

Efforts were slowed, Cotten said, because lead in the soil unearthed by the tornado had to be addressed before other construction could begin.

At Garvin Park, playground equipment has been repaired and the shelter has been reroofed, but the park won’t be opened for use until grass can be established.

Among improvements at the renovated Parr Hill Park will be playgrounds, three shelters, a children’s splash pad, off-street parking and a dog park. Previously, the park had a single playground and shelter, and no off-street parking.

More help

AMONG THOSE EATING LUNCH at Cunningham Park on Thursday were members of Sojourn Collegiate Ministry, a 22-member group of students and staff members from colleges in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. They are volunteering in Joplin over their spring break.

Text Only
May 2011 Joplin tornado
  • r041414wildwood.jpg Opening of nursing home another recovery milestone

    Gladys Dutton has done a lot of things in her life, but Monday’s dedication of the Communities at Wildwood Ranch nursing home marked a first. “I’ve never cut a ribbon before,” she said. “I hope I do a good job.” Dutton was one of four residents to participate in the opening of the $8.5 million nursing center that eventually will be home to 120 people.

    April 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • 052212 unity walk1_72.jpg SLIDESHOW: One year later, One day of unity, updated Photos from a day of events commemorating the May 22, 2011 tornado anniversary

    May 22, 2012 1 Photo

  • Joplin Redevelopment Corp. preparing for first property sale

    The first sale of property from the Joplin Redevelopment Corp. to Wallace Bajjali Development Partners is scheduled for May 16. The city staff will be working to prepare for that sale, it was discussed on Tuesday at a meeting of the JRC.

    April 9, 2014

  • Issues prompt pair to seek help from city; allocations approved for repairs in tornado zone

    Two people spoke to the Joplin City Council on Monday night about issues they would like the city government to address. Elizabeth Clement, a Neosho resident who works in Joplin, asked the city to operate more surveillance in parking lots because of the number of cars stolen. She said her car was stolen from the parking lot at Northpark Mall and used in robberies.

    April 7, 2014

  • National institute releases final report on Joplin tornado

    The National Institute of Standards and Technology on Friday released a final report into the technical investigation of the May 22, 2011, tornado that struck Joplin — the deadliest tornado in the United States in the 64 years that official records have been kept.

    March 28, 2014

  • r031814tornadofunds2.jpg Local tornado fund board cites appreciation, accomplishments

    The 991 donations ranged from $1 to $119,000. They came from all over the world. On Tuesday, the managers of the Joplin Tornado First Response Fund gave an accounting of how those donations, which totaled about $995,950 with interest, were given in 41 grants, recipients of which included 27 local agencies.

    March 18, 2014 2 Photos

  • Dan Riddell 0604013.jpg Farmers Insurance extends tornado recovery commitment

    After investments that included stationing a company executive in Joplin for eight months last year, officials with Farmers Insurance said the company will continue its post-tornado commitment to Joplin in 2014. “We’re going to stay until the end,” said Doris Dunn, director of community relations for the company, on Wednesday. “That includes sending in another 100-plus volunteers and making some additional financial investments.”

    February 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • r021714rescuedog.jpg Author prepares for release of children’s book featuring heroic Joplin rescue dog

    Carolyn Mueller is both a dog lover and a storyteller. So when she got the opportunity to write a story about a Joplin dog named Lily who helped search for survivors after the May 2011 tornado, she jumped on it. “Dogs like Lily can be heroes, too,” she said.

    February 18, 2014 2 Photos

  • VIDEO: Lost photos claim day to be held at museum

    National Disaster Photo Rescue and the Joplin Museum Complex have scheduled a public viewing and photo claim day for 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 22, at the museum complex in Schifferdecker Park. The project, originally known as Lost Photos of Joplin, was organized in the weeks after the May 22, 2011, Joplin tornado to reunite storm victims with photos displaced by the storm.

    February 4, 2014

  • Building-permit total since tornado nears $1 billion

    The building of new homes in Joplin continues at an average pace of 16 to 18 per month, according to a building permit report released for December by the city of Joplin. Eighteen building permits for new homes were issued in both November and December. In fiscal year 2013, permits for new homes averaged more than 16 per month.

    January 31, 2014

Purchase Globe Photos

Featured Ads
Tornado: Multimedia coverage
Tornado: Obituaries
Tornado: Columns
Tornado: Mike Pound
Tornado: Lists of missing, fatalities & relief
Tornado: Donate & volunteer
Tornado: Resources & relief