KCPS helps neighborhood turn land into future park

By Joe Jarosz
Northeast News
July 16, 2014

KANSAS CITY, Missouri – If you build it, they will come.

That’s the mindset behind the Blue Valley Neighborhood Association and their goal to build a park at the former location of McCoy Elementary School, 1524 White Ave.

The neighborhood association was recently awarded a $15,000 tier two, Community Capital Fund grant. With the grant, the association will launch “McCoy Friends Y Amigos – Work. Gather. Play.” an initiative to create a neighborhood park on the former McCoy School site and increase community involvement. In addition to supporting the first phase of playground equipment for the proposed McCoy playground, the grant also supports organizational capacity-building through a pilot program that will provide the surrounding community with leadership training in Spanish.

Sherry Ashcroft, chair of the McCoy committee, said for the past two years, the committee has been working with the Kansas City Public Schools repurposing team for options on what to do with the site of the former elementary school. She said the KCPS enlisted the help of 360 Architecture to design a playground and neighborhood green space on the site.

“They worked closely with the association to inform and engage the surrounding community,” Ashcroft said. “At the request of the association, 360 [Architecture] also provided a detailed cost estimate to aid in the search for funding.”

Other neighborhood associations that have participated in the repurposing process and have received funding through the Community Capital Fund include the South Roundtop Neighborhood Association with its transforming and revitalization project, Town Fork Creek Neighborhood Association with its continuation of funding for the restoration through outreach, leadership and resources and the Ivanoe Neighborhood with its arts project about hope, heritage and history.

On Aug. 1, 2014, the Blue Valley Neighborhood Association will embark on a month-long crowd funding campaign on the website www.neighbor.ly. The BVNA has to raise 10 percent of the grant, or $1,500, to receive the full amount. The site would include a walking trail around the perimeter of the park, a structure playground and green space.

“We’d like to install a swing set in the fall, but that’s being aggressive,” Ashcroft said.

Recently, the BVNA held a community gathering at the site of the proposed playground. Ashcroft thanked the community and fellow BVNA members – Waunita Small, Dianne Marsh, Linda Worley, Lee Hines, Bob Stork, Nancy Simmons, Veronica Alveraz, and Dale Fugate – as well as area organizations that contributed to the success of the event and everyone’s support of the project.

“Many of us have been around long enough to remember the dedication of the McCoy Elementary School staff to supporting the diversity within this bi-lingual community,” Ashcroft said. “Our ultimate vision for the McCoy site is a public place where families and the community can gather and play.”

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