Northeast News | Community weighs in on new Kessler Park master plan

Abby Hoover
Chief Editor

Hoxie Collective, the community planning practice tasked with creating a new master plan for Kessler Park, hosted an open house at the Kansas City Museum on September 24 to discuss park improvement concepts.

The Kessler Park Improvement Plan process began in the spring of 2022. The design team has worked with the parks department, residents, and stakeholders over the past several months to understand the challenges and opportunities present in the Kessler Park. Currently, the team is hard at work refining the design concepts based on community feedback.

At the event, community members reviewed the park’s design projects and provided feedback on what they liked the most, ranking them by number.

A survey, which ended on September 9, collected the opinions and preferences of a diverse set of respondents, reflecting the cultural and economic diversity of the neighborhood.

“We went to parks to talk with people where they play games at Maple Park and Concourse, we went to St. Anthony Parish and had meetings in their basement with their parishioners, Spanish speakers and English speakers,” Hoxie said. “We went to Riverview Gardens to talk with the residents and then outside in this park just around the corner. Of course we reached out and with the help of Jerusalem Farm, who really helped us think through some of these strategies and make connections, and brought in interpreters from JVS, we were able to talk with a lot of people.

Volunteers from Northeast’s Urban Trail Co., who maintain unpaved trails in Kessler Park, were on hand. They rate the trails they look after to be about seven on a scale of one to ten.

“I think the trails are in great shape,” said volunteer Scott Lillis. “There are areas of the park with homeless people and trash and glass, things like that, which I think affect the perception of it. Usually when you’re on the trail most of the time you don’t run into that stuff, you see more of it on the road by the reservoir there.

The group has worked hard to make the trails sustainable and safe, cleaning up washed-out hillsides, cleaning up trash, and keeping a positive presence in the woods. They hope to see better water management throughout the park, which would help with trail maintenance, and for this to be a catalyst for real change in the parks.

This was the last formal public engagement opportunity at this stage. Then, the project team and advisory committee – made up of neighbors, local stakeholders and community group representatives – will work together to begin fleshing out the phasing plan, cost estimate, conservation and operation. and land maintenance.

“So taking all the community feedback on park programs, activities, and amenities, and really thinking about what can logically come first, second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, over the next few years,” Hoxie said in terms of what happens next. “[We’re] really taking that feedback on some of the great ideas that we’ve heard about safety and security and cleanliness and protection and conservation practices for the park, that’s kind of the foundation of this plan, and kick-starting them as quickly as possible with federal, state and local funding, and then building on that.

Hoxie Collective is beginning a strategic and technical effort over the next three to four months, looking at what can be paid for by which funding sources and phasing out projects.

All of this will translate into the master plan for at least the next 10 years, but Hoxie said the master plans are meant to be flexible and adaptable.

“Depending on what happens in the first two or three years, we will have to make updates and adaptations, that will, of course, be in the parks department,” Hoxie said.

The park department’s priority with this process is to build deep connections with the community and keep them involved in planning and implementation as the master plan is executed.

Hoxie said feedback is always welcome via the project’s website,
www.kesslerparkplankc.com.




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