Liberty Parks are looking for a big boost of community support. The Liberty Foundation for Parks and Recreation is undergoing its first ever annual campaign with the vision to help push forward big plans for improving a tired parks system in that town.
The foundation, formerly known as the Liberty Parks and Recreation Charitable Fund, formed several years ago as the charitable arm of the Parks and Recreation Department in Liberty. The foundation offers scholarships for kids who would not otherwise be able to afford to participate in sports. It also partners with community groups raising funds for improving and building amenities in Liberty Parks. In the last couple of years, this partnership has led to the development of the Stocksdale Park Dog Park and Shelter, as well as the installation of improvements at the new Arthur’s Hill Park.
Bob Burkes, chairman of the foundation, says he has enjoyed getting to be a part of helping develop Fountain Bluff and the dog park at Stocksdale and believes other people would like to be a part of making city parks better. The annual campaign is a step toward expanding the base of people who are able to be a part of building the future of parks in the city.
“Most people who live in Liberty have a passion for Liberty and that’s what this is about. It is a way to let people share their passion for Liberty and do something good for the city that they value so much,” Burkes said.
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Janet Bartnik, director of Parks and Recreation for the City of Liberty, says many areas in the parks are in need of rejuvenation. While tax dollars do go to the parks, the department provides many community services that eat into the funds that could otherwise be available for capital improvements. Annual campaign dollars are expected to help bridge the gap.
“Tax dollars often just are not enough to support the quality of life that our community desires,” Bartnik says.
The city council has approved major renovation plans for Liberty’s City Park, Bennet Park and Ruth Moore Parks. Plans are also on paper to improve and expand the trails system to connect neighborhoods to shopping areas and schools. However, funding sources for these improvements have not yet been identified.
Burkes says it was the vision of a fully accessible playground that expanded his idea of what the foundation could do.
“A year or so ago, I went to a park board meeting and they had someone come in to talk about accessible playgrounds,” Burkes said. “The cost was well in excess of $100,000. I thought, someday the foundation should be able to do something like that for this city. I drive around other cities in the country, and I look at some of these parks and I think we could really do some good if we could have something like that in Liberty.”
While there is no specific financial goal for the campaign, Scott and Tom Page of Pony Express Bank are co-chairing the campaign and presented a $5,000 check to kick off the drive on April 18.
The campaign will conclude at the foundation benefit golf tournament on July 14.
For more information visit: www.libertymissouri.gov/ LFCampaign.