November 2011


 Parks 'n Play eNews

  A monthly update from Kansas City, Missouri Parks and Recreation

Cliff Drive by Eric Bowers
Fall image of Cliff Drive by Eric Bowers. This photograph is one of 24 featured in the Green Exposures Exhibit on display through January 2, 2012, at the Central Library.


Lakeside Nature Center Calendars Available 


LNC Calendar pic 3The Friends of Lakeside Nature Center are very excited to be selling 2012 calendars. The committee began work on the project in January and more than 170 photographs were submitted from their members for use in the calendar.  The chosen photographs reflect the Friends' membership and their knowledge and experience with Missouri wildlife and habitat.


The calendar is a window into wildlife rehabilitation. Four of the months' featured animals were actually rehabilitated at LNC. The other eight months feature stunning Missouri wildlife photographs, with interesting animal facts (examples shown).


There are two ways to purchase a calendar:


In person: $10 each at Lakeside Nature Center, 4701 E. Gregory Boulevard in Swope Park


On-line: $12.95 each (shipping included) from the Friends of Lakeside Nature website.


Now is the time to purchase calendars for holiday gift-giving. Not only do the calendars make great gifts for friends, family and co-workers, but the proceeds support our own nature center. It's a win-win for everyone!


Lakeside Nature Center is one of Missouri's largest wildlife rehabilitation facilities and provides educational and recreational opportunities that focus on the environment.  LNC typically houses about 75 animals including two bald eagles, two turkey vultures, three barred owls, three varieties of hawks and two Kestrel falcons. Lakeside Nature Center is owned and operated by Kansas City, Missouri Parks and Recreation.

Vol 5, Issue 10
Green Ball


City of Kansas City, Missouri






To improve the quality of life by providing recreational, leisure, and aesthetic opportunities for all citizens, and by conserving and enhancing the environment. We will accomplish this mission by providing quality programming, making the best use of existing resources, developing a supportive and influential constituency, developing effective collaborations and partnerships, and acquiring and preserving natural features.


Kansas City, Missouri 

Parks and Recreation

4600 East 63rd Street

Kansas City, MO 64130


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Celebrate Nikita's 5th Birthday at the Kansas City Zoo


Little Boy and Nikita: Rendina Children, aged 3-11, who bring their favorite big white polar bear a birthday card on Saturday, November 19 will receive free admission to the Kansas City Zoo as part of Nikita's 5th birthday celebration. 


Nikita, the rock star of Polar Bear Passage, will receive his very own special treats throughout the day as Zoo Keepers talk about what it is like to feed and care for this marvelous, mischievous and playful animal.


Special birthday cakes made of "flavored lard" from MeMa's Bakery will be the tasty treat of the day for Nikita. And, not to leave all his fans without a sweet treat, Zoo guests will enjoy yummy cupcakes also provided by MeMa's Bakery.


Zoo Docents will demonstrate what can be done to help save the polar bears' environment, answer questions about polar bears and help attendees create their very own polar bear mask.


Nikita was born on November 21, 2006. He currently weighs over 900 pounds and enjoys fish, dog food, lard, fruits and vegetables each day. He loves to play with his many enrichment items and show off for guests. He can be seen swimming, digging, splashing and diving year round at the Polar Bear Passage in the Kansas City Zoo.


The Zoo is open 9:30am-4:00pm daily except for Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years Day. Admission from November-February is only $6; and Friends of the Zoo Members are always free. Call 816-513-5800, or visit the Zoo's website for more information. The Kansas City Zoo is operated in agreement with the Kansas City, Missouri Board of Parks and Recreation and is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

KC Parks Director McHenry Honored by Northland Neighborhoods

KC Parks Director, Mark McHenry, received the Rich Noll Excellence in Government Service Award from the Northland Neighborhoods, Inc. (NNI) at their sixth annual Awards Breakfast WR bridgeheld at the Embassy Suites-KCI on October 29, 2011. The award was presented by NNI Board Member and KC Parks Commissioner David Mecklenburg (pictured).

NNI's mission is to improve the quality of life in the Northland by collaborating with residents, businesses and institutions to empower neighborhoods to build and maintain their own healthy communities.


Rich Noll Excellence in Government Service Award

The heart of City Hall still aches from the loss of Rich Noll. Rich's untimely death in 2010 left a void but also a legacy of achievement and a standard for excellence in government service.


Mark McHenry took the helm of the Kansas City Parks and Recreation Department in 2003 as only the seventh director in the 119-year history of the department. He holds a Parks Management Degree from Texas Tech University and a Master of Public Administration from UMKC.


Mark was inducted into the American Academy for Parks and Recreation Administration in 2004. He is a nationally recognized industry leader and has served on the Board of the National Recreation and Parks Association; is Past President of the Missouri Parks and Recreation Association, the Southwestern Parks and Recreation Training Institute and the American Society for Public Administration, Kansas City.


Mark was the point person on the massive expansion of the Kansas City Zoo from 1991-1995, oversaw community center construction over the last decade, directed the renovation of the Liberty Memorial, and managed the department's response to a series of natural disasters. His professional awards include the L.P. Cookingham Award from the American Society for Public Administration, the Crisis Management Award, the Southwest Parks and Recreation Training Institute Diamond and Sapphire Awards, and the Distinguished Fellow Award from the Missouri Parks and Recreation Association.


Improvements Made Along Historic Cliff Drive

This weekend marks the unveiling of improvements along Cliff Drive in the historic Northeast area of Kansas City. The Northeast Community Leadership Action Team (NCLAT) will officially unveil "Constrained Chaos", a sculptural bicycle rack designed by Dick Jobe and Beth Nybeck, in the Concourse at 10:30am on November 19. Saturday also marks the completion of the installation of 1200 feet of stone curbing and additional drains to re-route a natural spring that continually washed out a large section of Cliff Drive.


Constrained Chaos Bike Rack"Constrained Chaos" (pictured) is part of NCLAT's "Less Trash is More Art" community beautification project that promotes the Northeast's connection to the arts community, promotes healthy methods of sustainable transportation, and enhances Cliff Drive. This first installation was funded by State Street Financial.


The curbing project is valued at $650,000, and also includes the placement of decorative gates to help deter traffic from using Cliff Drive on the weekends when it is "car-free". An additional $642,000 grant from the National Scenic Byways Program has been awarded to improve Cliff Drive's stone and concrete pedestrian walking trails and steps, remove overgrowth and obstacles from the many scenic vistas along the drive, and add benches, safety fencing, and directional signage to improve the visitor experience along the route.


Cliff Drive is a 4.27 mile roadway which opened in 1915 to provide a route for Kansas City laborers to get to farms in the Northeast. Its "car-free" weekend designation makes it one of the most bicycle-friendly drives in Kansas City. The improved trail system links Cliff Drive to residential areas, allowing visitors to access the byway directly from the neighborhood thereby enhancing livability by providing free recreational activities and establishing pathways for stronger connections to residents.

Phase 1 of Cleaver II Trail Nears Completion

Cleaver II TrailIf you have driven down Emanuel Cleaver II Boulevard in the past couple of months, you may have noticed a terrific new amenity. Construction is nearing completion on Phase 1 of the Cleaver II Trail Project. The Cleaver II Trail is 1.8 miles in length and runs along the west side of Emanuel Cleaver II Boulevard from Chelsea to Elmwood Drive where it connects with the Brush Creek Trail.


The project includes construction of a 10' wide reinforced concrete trail, accessible street crossings, site grading, restoration seeding, and associated site work.


The multi-use trail will serve a diverse population of Kansas City and provide a continuous trail system from the Country Club Plaza all the way to the VA Medical Center. Work is expected to be completed by January 2012 on this new connection to jobs, neighborhoods, schools, and recreation areas.


KC Parks: Blue River and Indian Creek Trails
KC Parks: Blue River and Indian Creek Trails

The Cleaver II Trail is just one of several new Trails Projects to have recent extensions. Others include Line Creek, Indian Creek and Blue River. 


Take a walk along the Blue River and Indian Creek Trails in this video from the City's Weekly Report. 



Parks Spotlight: Blue Valley Park

Blue Valley Park is located in the area of East 23rd Street to 27th Street, Topping to the Blue River. A park with a small golf course in this area had been proposed in 1927 but nothing was done due to lack of funds. The property contained a lake called "Bales Lake". The Bales family settled in Jackson County in the 1830s.


Bales Lake Blue Valley ParkKnown as the Bales Lake Park project area, property for a park finally began to be acquired in 1943. Since World War II was going on, little was done to the park area at the time. More property was acquired over the next few years.


It was officially named Blue Valley Park in 1945. Among other names proposed for the park were Daniel Morgan Boone Park for a son of Daniel Boone who lived in the area and trapped, hunted and fished along the Blue River in the 1830s; and George Kessler Park, for the planner of Kansas City's early parks and boulevards and strong supporter of the development of recreational facilities along the Blue River. Mr. Kessler's report "Special Report for the Blue Valley Parkway" 1912 explored development of rivers in other cities and suggested that the areas near the Blue River had great natural beauty and the River could be "one of the most useful and beautiful waterways in the country."


Following the War, amenities were added including a ball diamond, picnic areas, playground equipment and a shelter house. Also right after the War, 52 buildings in the northeast corner of the park were used for Veterans' Housing. Several city parks were used to provide temporary housing for returning war veterans including Blue Valley Park, Penn Valley Park, Holmes Square Park, and The Parade. Small houses were built in the parks. This program was over by the mid-1950s and the temporary housing removed.


In the mid-1960s, it was brought to the attention of the Park Board that there was a Santa Fe Trail connection with the property at 27th and Topping to the Blue River. The Independence and Westport Road, also called the Big Blue River Crossing, was a lesser used route going from Independence to Westport. After the purchase in 1967, it was originally called Blue Valley Park: Santa Fe Addition but was renamed Santa Fe Trail Park in 1971.


Recent developments in Blue Valley Park include a Frisbee Golf Course added in 2008 and renovations of the ballfield and cleaning of the area around it in 2009. A concession stand, built in 2009, was named in honor of Larry and Donna Van Dyke. Larry, along with his wife, Donna, organized the Optimist Athletic Association which promotes youth baseball in Blue Valley Park.


In 2010, a water playground was placed in the proximity of where a fountain had been located. The Heritage Fountain designed by Kansas City artist, Dale Eldred was put in Blue Valley Park in 1977 to commemorate the 1976 Bicentennial. The fountain was removed in 2010.



East 23rd St. & Topping Ave., 238.50 acres

KC Parks: NRPA Gold Medal Award Video
KC Parks: NRPA Gold Medal Award Video

Watch Our "Gold Medal" Video

KC Parks recently received recognition as a National Gold Medal Award finalist by the American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration and the National Recreation and Park Association.  Kansas City's Parks and Recreation Department was one of only four communities to receive this prestigious designation within the "Class I" category, which included all U.S. parks and recreation departments serving populations of 250,000 or more. 


As part of the application process, KC Parks submitted a video overviewing the department and highlighted projects and partnerships. Please take a moment to view the video and learn more about your "Gold Medal" department. 

Pass it On!
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Disability Icon The Kansas City, Missouri Parks and Recreation Department facilities and programs are available to people of all abilities.  If accommodations or individual supports are needed to participate, please contact Carrie Randle, Inclusion Facilitator, at (816) 513-0730.