The National Park Service is seeking the public’s opinion on the future of the Truman Farm Home in Grandview.
By BRIAN BURNES
The Kansas City Star
“We are attempting to determine what our options are for being able to manage the site effectively, not only currently but in the near future,” said Larry Villalva, superintendent of the Harry S Truman National Historic Site, which includes the farm home as well as the Truman Home in Independence.
Driving the planning process were two recent property acquisitions for what is now an 11-acre site at 12301 Blue Ridge Blvd.
The park service acquired a vacant five-acre parcel, just south and southeast of the farm home, in 2008.
A second acquisition, finalized last year, includes a former paint store and parking lot occupying about an acre. Planners imagine a multi-agency visitors center in the old paint store, southwest of the farm home.
The planning document is candid about the difficulty that visitors have in imagining the roughly 600 acres that the Truman family controlled when the future president helped manage the farm from 1906 through 1917.
Urban sprawl, visible in every direction, inhibits the visitor experience, Villalva said.
“That is one of the main points we try to emphasize with school groups,” Villalva said. “Unless visitors have very vivid imaginations, it is hard for them to have some kind of mental picture of what the farm used to look like when the Truman family was there.”
Options include planting historically correct grasses on the vacant lot south and southeast of the farm home, as well as removing some utility poles, Villalva said.
Signage that would include archival photos and historical information detailing what the views may have been like from particular vantage points also would provide context, he said.
While identifying such needs is one thing, Villalva said, finding money for them is another. The Truman site would have to compete with other park service locations where similiar projects are being considered.
Final approval of a planning document is a significant step, Villalva added.
After the public comment period closes on Feb. 23, the document will be reviewed further by various park service officials. Final approval should be completed by May, Villalva said.
The farm site has been a south Jackson County landmark for decades.
Members of the Truman family sold the initial five-acre site to Jackson County and the Harry S Truman Farm Foundation in 1983. The property was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1985 and became part of the Truman National Historic Site in 1993.
To reach Brian Burnes, call 816-224-4120 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.