A former park that continues to be used as a park might get another chapter added to its story where it becomes a park again.
Two area organizations are developing a plan to turn the former U.S. 50 Blue Star Memorial Park on Missouri Boulevard into a park for those in the area to eat lunch outside and take walks.
Jeff DeLong, president of the Jefferson City Westside Business Association and a member of the Jefferson City West Side Rotary Club, approached the Jefferson City Public Works committee Thursday about the two organizations' interest in the property, which is next to Staples.
DeLong said the groups want to better the community in that area and something that can be done even when the groups have spells of lower volunteerism.
"We're really looking for ways that we can develop it to where its low maintenance so that even in those lower years of volunteerism, it doesn't really change a lot," he said. "We don't want to put any more burden on the city from the standpoint of mowing anymore, although there will always be some of that We also want to let you guys know we want to work with the city on this. We don't want to get into planning something that just isn't going to be possible."
With approval from the public works committee, the two organizations will develop a master plan, which then also needs city approval.
Britt Smith, operations division director for Public Works, said the city will enter a license agreement with the two organizations if they approve the plan. The agreement would allow them to do specific, ongoing work on the property.
Smith said the Public Works Department currently oversees the property after the Missouri Department of Transportation gave it to the city.
There used to be several monuments on the property that have since gone to new homes.
Natalie Newville, a member of both organizations, said the park space there has been on the radar for a while and some work has already been done.
For instance, the organizations held a cleanup day there last fall, and the city helped removed a couple of dead trees. The West Side Rotary Club also built and installed picnic tables on the property.
"It was kind of at that point where we realized we really needed a master plan," Newville said. "We needed something to kind of guide us, especially since in these groups different people take different leadership positions (over time). We just wanted to make sure we had a plan going for all of it."
She said the groups are looking into a walking path, pavilion and restrooms as part of the master plan.
A name is also up for discussion, but Newville said the organizations discussed Service Park or something similar.
"We really want to honor our first responders, our veterans, but also because service organizations are the ones who are constructing this," she said. "It's kind of a mix of different aspects of service, which we want to honor that in some way."
This isn't likely a project to be done overnight, Newville said. There will be more cleanup days this fall, but the organizations also need to raise funds for the project.
They plan to apply for grants, through Rotary but also other avenues, to also help cover the costs.
The timeline to complete the project will largely depend on how fast they find funding, but she said they expect it to be a multi-year project.
"Maybe we raise enough money to do the walking trail," she said. "Then we have enough money to do the pavilion and kind of do it in phases as we're able to raise the funds."
The dream for the property, Newville said, is to make the area better suited for what people already use it for.
"So many people go and eat lunch there or dinner there," she said. "It's just kind of a green space in an area where there's not a lot of green space It's definitely not a park in the sense of what we think about with our other amazing parks in town. But it's just kind of a green space for people to go to in the middle of their work day or when they get off work at night."