5:50 PM

Dave Lebenow

The first of four public meetings scheduled for input regarding a Kimberling City park that closed 15 years ago took place last week.
Table Rock Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Dave Liebenow says over 100 area residents attended last weeks meeting and expects even bigger crowds at future meetings.
Students from Drury University’s School of Architecture, which conducts a community service project each semester for an area community, offered suggestions for the future of the closed park.  Those suggestions ran the gammit from a farmers market, a "smart garden", biking/and golf cart accessible trails and traditional park features.
Liebenow says that with the recent disclosure by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that cooperative agreements with not for profit agencies like Ozarks Rivers Heritage Foundation would have to be restructured due to legal issues, community involvement in decisions regarding the parks future are paramount.
Everyone in attendance was asked to take part in a survey about the park and other park's in the area.  Some of those question asked how residents currently use the park, what three things they would like to see in the park, and how often they use other parks in the area and if they feel safe visiting the park.
Preliminary data reveals that 40%of those polled felt that re-opening and reimaging of Joe Bald Park was important., About 18% said it isn't important. 
 29.5% of those polled said they felt safe while visiting the park while about 17% said safety needed to be addressed. 
On the wish list of residents were swimming, camping, fishing, hiking, biking, a shooting range, and picnic areas.  A mediation garden was even mentioned. 
Liebenow told those in attendance that he property will have to be self-sustaining, which means grant money or state funds cannot be used.  Some of those attending wanted to ask questions of a Corps employee, who was there to listen to the presentation, but were told that would have to happen at another meeting.
The Chamber paid Drury $4,300 for the study.  Liebenow said if they had hired another entity to complete a similar project, the cost could have been as much as $30,000.
Data compiled from last weeks meeting will now be analyzed and suggestions narrowed down so they can be presented at the next public meeting on October 14th.