Kansas Citians are enjoying Loose Park’s comeback

05/30/2014 5:13 PM

06/03/2014 2:23 PM

When Rose Day rolls around on Sunday, the Laura Conyers Smith Municipal Rose Garden in Loose Park will be ready to amaze and delight visitors.

City employees, private contractors and volunteers were busy this week as they pruned the stunning collection of 4,000 roses, trimmed bushes and replaced wood pergolas on top of stone pillars along the walkway that wraps around much of the 1.5-acre garden.

The roses and the garden’s fountain attract photographers and people of all ages throughout the late spring and into the fall. The garden is one of the jewels of Loose Park, which stretches from 51st to 55th streets and from Wornall Road to Summit Street.

About a decade ago, the park’s image suffered because of dirty or closed restrooms, cracked pavement, unsightly picnic areas and other problems.

But a public-private effort has revived the park. Funds for improvements have come from taxpayers and many private groups, most notably the Ward Family Foundation.

The foundation, created by the family that owns Russell Stover Candies, has paid for extra mowings, fertilization and overseeding, as well as a recently upgraded 1.4-mile rubberized asphalt trail.

Other enhancements at the park have included a new playground, new pedestrian lights, new sprayground, renovated restrooms, restoration of the lake area and repaved roads.

The charms of Loose Park are hard to resist. On a sunny afternoon this week, runners used the new trail, children ran around the playground and an older couple strolled through the rose garden. Hand in hand, naturally.

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