#PROGRESSING
Enhancements on Park Maintenance

July 30, 2021

CHARACTER TRAIT: Progressing

DEFINITION: To move forward, advance or develop toward a better, more complete or more modern state.

St. Joseph residents like to play outside. And inside. All year long.

Few cities the size of St. Joseph can boast an interconnecting set of 26-mile concrete pedestrian paths, or the landmark architecture that adds such a big sense of local “story” to so many outdoor spaces. From ice hockey to wooden-bat league baseball, to full-scale concert spaces, NFL training facilities, a state-of-the-art nature center and tucked away mountain biking trails, St. Joseph continues to open the door on adventure and fun.

Soon guests and residents could enjoy even more, both inside and outside, as a 1/2 cent sales tax increase hits the ballot, with revenues dedicated to renovation and enhancements of the city’s parks system. If approved, the tax increase would generate an additional $5 to 6 million dollars per year and could be shared across dozens of projects.

In a city like St. Joseph, the proposed enhancements can help bridge classic structures with modern amenities. The Parkway System, and hallmark areas like Krug Park and Hyde Park, are part of the city’s founding vision for a beautiful and hidden oasis in an urban area. But several more modern spaces – like the frisbee golf course, the Splash Park, pickle ball courts, Bode Ice Arena and city trail expansions – are making St. Joseph an active lifestyle for many.

The tax proposal includes a ten-year sunset and can make a significant impact on an already “uncommon” parks and recreation system over the decade. Enhancements to the Civic Arena as a venue for large-scale sporting events could be a goal well within reach. From a sports perspective, the city is already well-known as home of the Kansas City Chiefs Training Camp, hosting guests and residents in a laid-back and convenient location. Midwestern and even national softball and basketball events have also been welcomed in by St. Joseph parks’ facilities. Some of the funds from the tax incentive could boost further sports tourism.

Like many plans on the near horizon, the tax proposal also lines up well with the Imagine 2040 goal of making St. Joseph a better place to live. Survey respondents on the Imagine 2040 project said maintenance of city parks and swimming pools were a high priority. Respondents also want to see improvements to the Parkway System and Riverfront areas to bring in more tourists.

Jeff Atkins, Assistant Director, St. Joseph Parks, Recreation and Civic Facilities, explains that the tax incentive is an opportunity to take care of many park system needs on a more regular and dedicated basis. “There’s so much to love about our parks system. Much larger communities can’t touch the level of amenities we have here, and we are truly blessed. We hear this appreciation all the time from visitors and guests,” says Atkins. “The tax incentive is a great opportunity to take care of this resource. We can work together to help fund necessary improvements, so that our amenities are available to everyone for generations as we continue to improve St. Joseph. It can be a complete game changer.”

Changing the recreation “game” in St. Joseph (pun fully intended) means a lot to a parks system that already turns heads nationally, while providing the spaces families need for the simple everyday joys, too.

#WANDERLUST

Starting in the 1910s organizations, communities, and even private individuals began developing the first paved highways to connect metropolitan areas which would collectively become known as the National Auto Trail system.

#FORWARD-THINKING

Any strong city has a strong educational foundation. But what really sets a city apart – and really makes it uncommon – is when that foundation is built around the thoughts, opinions and ideas of the families and leaders who call that city home … now, and in future generations.

#LUCKY

Games of chance and dining establishments have been a part of St. Joseph, Missouri’s uncommon character since the earliest settlers gathered to let off some steam and gamble on optimistic odds.

#HUMBLE

If you ask him about his career playing and coaching tennis, he’ll tell you he just hopes that people try the sport.

#PASSIONATE

Forget anything stuffy you might think about symphony or orchestra performances, and consider a symphony experience St. Joseph-style.