By Kevin Collison
Downtown boosters like to say it’s becoming a place where people can live, work and play, and last week a couple hundred kids from Crossroads Academy embraced that concept with joy at the opening of a new playground at West Terrace Park.
While the 45-degree temps and wind made for a chilly morning, it didn’t stop a parade of grade school students from the nearby charter school at 1080 Washington from climbing the new Bamboo Jungle and piling on the spinner.
The $260,000 playground was the result of a three-year lobbying effort by the Friends of West Terrace Park and the Downtown Neighborhood Association. It was developed by the city parks department.
“All you kids, if you see a need in this world, you work on it,” Maggie Goss of the Friends of West Terrace Park told the youngsters. “You can make things happen.”
The playground replaces an older one that had fallen into disrepair at West Terrace Park. The park on the west edge of downtown is one of the city’s oldest and offers sweeping views of the West Bottoms and confluence of the Kansas and Missouri Rivers.
West Terrace is adjacent to Case Park and both are seeing renewed attention and stewardship as downtown becomes home to more people.
Two years ago, a dog park was opened by the parks department and future plans call for bocce courts, workout equipment, grills and possibly a restroom.
“This is a key part of the Downtown Neighborhood Association boundaries,” said Jared Campbell, president of the DNA. It’s surrounded by residents we’ve seen a need for improvements in the park from day one.”
Goss said the moment work began on the playground, she noticed a renewed sense of pride in the park.
“As soon as construction started in earnest, the neighborhood has taken ownership of the park,” she said.
“There’s been less trash, people are cleaning up after their dogs and there are kids from all over the downtown neighborhood using this, not just the school.”
The new playground includes several different play activities including spinners, swings and the city’s first “Bamboo Jungle” climbing feature. It’s geared for children and teens ages 5 and over.
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