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New Parks in Springfield and Greene County and the Botanical Center planned for Close Memorial Park[

In this segment of KSMU's Sense of Community series, Michele Skalicky talks with Jodie Adams, Director of Parks for Springfield/Greene County about new parks that are being developed in the area. And hear from Friends of the Garden members about Close Memorial Park and Gardens and about their effort to bring a Botanical Center to Springfield.

Sometime in the near future, residents of Springfield and Greene County will have new places to play. The Springfield-Greene county park board is working to develop several new parks and renovate existing ones. They're counting on the passage of a measure in August that would renew the existing quarter-cent sales tax for parks, which was originally approved by voters in August 2001, to fund the work.

One project the park board is involved in is the Botanical Center, which would be located at Close Park, just south of Nathanael Greene Park on S. Scenic. The center would overlook the arboretum there as well as the many flower gardens that grace the north side of the park.

It would house some park board offices as well as serve as a home to university of Missouri Extension and would be a place for the public to learn about gardening. The price tag is estimated at $4 million for the botanical center, which could be rented out for special events such as weddings. But director of parks for Springfield/Greene County Jodie Adams, says its main function would be education.

Another park being developed in Springfield is going to the dogs. The Cruse Family Dog Park will be located at the Old Loren Street Landfill on W. Catalpa. Adams says they're ready to start on construction documents for the concept plan. A citizen's group started working with the park board a couple of years ago to develop a dog park. They've been raising money, and a donation for the park came from the Cruse Family Foundation. Sales tax money would also be used.

Dogs who are lucky enough to be taken to the park by their owners will be spoiled.

No completion date for the Cruse Family Dog park has been set yet.

Another park in the works is the Rutledge-Wilson Park west of Springfield near Wilson's Creek national Battlefield. Adams says, the park, which encompasses more than 209 acres, will be one of the park systems jewels.

According to Adams, it will be a live demonstration farm.

The Rutledge-Wilson park will also contain outdoor classrooms, and the Ozark Greenways trail system will run thru the park, connecting it with Jordan Valley park and Wilson's Creek National Battlefield. Adams says there will be opportunities to attend special events at the park.

A farm house on the site will be renovated.

On the south side of Springfield, the park board is working to renovate existing parks at Lake Springfield on the lake's north side—property which was owned by City Utilities and is now managed by the Springfield-Greene county Park Board. New playground equipment has already been added, and Adams says the park will eventually contain a marina with opportunities for the public to rent kayaks and canoes. She explains what's taking place out there.

A greenways trail will run along the front acreage of the property.

Moving north of Springfield, a park is being developed on the old Jack Owens property and farm. Josie Adams says the 143-acre Lost Hill Park will be a natural reserve area.

The property, located about a mile north of Hillcrest High School, also has a stream running thru it. The purchase of the park was part of the Vision 20/20 plan. It's expected to be open to the public in 2007.

Lost Hill Park will serve as a trailhead for the South Dry Sac Trail that will wind from Ritter Springs to Valley Water Mill Park.

That park is on the old Wilkie Farm near the mill, which will be the Valley Water Mill Equestrian Center. The park board will also manage the Valley Water Mill property with the Watershed Committee of the Ozarks. That property will be home to a watershed center that will allow for water quality study and research and public education. Natural hiking trails are being developed on the site. And Adams says other parks are in the works.

A lot of renovations are planned for area pools, and upgrades are planned at lake areas including Sequiota Park. Major renovations are planned there, especially in the lake area. And Jodie Adams says they hope to develop the 1st east side park past 65—they're looking at property now.

The park would be funded by quarter-cent sales tax revenue.

The park board is also looking at adding an aquatic center at the doling family center and adding 10 new school parks.

Jodie Adams says the new parks will help Springfield and Greene County keep up with park systems across the country.

Adams says people will be surprised at the parks' ability to bring in tourists to the area, and she says they'll keep Springfield and Greene County residents here since they won't have to travel to larger communities for similar amenities.

For more information about Springfield-Greene county parks go to

This program is available on the web at for KSMU and the Sense of Community Series, I'm Michele Skalicky.