Joplin to assess cost of rebuilding city parks

Saturday, July 30, 2011 | 4:08 p.m. CDT; updated 12:30 p.m. CDT, Monday, August 1, 2011

JOPLIN — Many organizations have offered to begin planting trees to help repair parks in Joplin that were damaged by a May 22 tornado, but city officials say that work has to wait until nails, glass, wood, metal, shingles and other debris are cleared away and design plans are finished.

The city is still compiling damage estimates for Cunningham Park, Parr Hill Park, Garvin Park and Campbell Parkway. Those won't be complete until design plans are approved, Leslie Jones, city finance director, told The Joplin Globe.

The parks were insured and they will be eligible for public funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Jones said.

"It's a long process," she said. "You have to get bids and estimates. The parks are going to be one of our bigger projects for (filling out) public assistance worksheets."

Help with the work will come from several cities and organizations, said Jodie Adams, director of the Springfield-Greene County Parks System. Her department and some others in southwest Missouri are working with state and national parks groups on the various stages of the park reconstruction.

She said industry people and other parks departments have been holding fundraisers to help with the costs, with parks departments in Springfield and Wentzville each having raised more than $1,000 for Joplin. And a donation fund for the parks has been set up with the Community Foundation of the Ozarks.

Chris Cotten, the city's parks and recreation director, said he'll know which resources to use once the city has its final cost analysis.

"Cunningham Park had beautiful trees and structures, and we want to put a park back together that makes people want to come back to that park," he said, including rebuilding the walking trail and the playground.

Volunteers have been helping to clean the parks, and more are needed, Cotten said.

Members of the city tree board had begun to inventory trees in the parks last year. They found that there were 116 trees in Cunningham Park and 101 in Parr Hill Park, with a value of about $1.3 million. The city is collecting donations to pay for the trees and furnishings that will be needed to refurbish the parks.

FEMA will help cover the damage to park elements such as playgrounds, ball fields, swimming pools, roads and tennis courts, said Crystal Payton, external affairs officer with the federal agency. She said the agency is able to help only with those things not covered by insurance.

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