Park department, volunteers clean up Kessler along The Paseo

Volunteers pick up trash along the treeline. Photo by Abby Hoover

The Cliff Drive Gate One cleanup on Wednesday, March 9 brought out nearly 50 parks employees, a dozen volunteers and KC Parks Ambassadors, and the new Director of Kansas City Parks and Recreation Chris Cotten.

After residents and park users complained of excessive dumping, illegal camping and safety issues, the department rallied to create a comprehensive solution.

Crews used heavy machinery to clear overgrown ground cover and remove larger objects, making it easier to reach the trash below.

“It makes me crazy that it’s a landfill, makes me absolutely nuts because it’s gorgeous,” Columbus Park resident and volunteer Kate Barsotti said. “The erosion has got to be addressed, too, or that road’s going to fall down.” 

An abandoned campsite that volunteers and crews addressed. Photo contributed by Kate Barsotti

She worked along an overgrown stone wall that had been used to shelter a campsite, the remains of which included mattresses, shopping carts, discarded clothing, and years old trash.

Resident Engagement Officer Kelly Jander, who leads the KC Parks Ambassadors, has big dreams for Kansas City’s parks. She imagines dedicated volunteers and community members dedicating themselves to each keeping a small piece of Kansas City’s parks clean.

“I imagine people like us, we all take our own 20 by 20 patch, we adopt it, we maintain it,” Jander said. “We figure out how, with the people right next to us, we patchwork it all together and somehow we program it. You know, the parks belong to us. When the community is engaged, that’s how it stays activated.”

Park department crews remove invasive plants. Photo by Abby Hoover

The park department already has a program where residents can adopt certain areas of parks, boulevards and parkways for a one-year commitment.

Indian Mound resident Christopher Lowrance is part of a group that just celebrated one year of weekly cleanups at Indian Mound Park at the opposite end of Kessler Park, but on Thursday he concentrated his efforts in Pendleton Heights.

“I had the day off, I saw something was happening and I thought it’d be kind of fun to come over here,” Lowrance said of the all-hands-on-deck cleanup.

With weekly cleanups with just a few volunteers from the neighborhood and KC Parks Ambassadors, they’ve been able to make progress at Indian Mound, which faces many of the same issues as the Gate One area.

“I think when I first moved here, it just seemed kind of sad for people, kids, that our parks were full of trash and stuff like that,” Lowrance said. “And it seemed like we all just deserve to have clean green space to be in so I just started walking my dog and would bring a bag with me and then when the Parks Ambassador started up, you know, definitely having crews come out made a difference.”

They’ve been so consistent with picking up litter and illegal dumping sites that they’ve started venturing out from Indian Mound along Gladstone Boulevard. Just last weekend, they found obvious sustained illegal dumping at Gladstone and North Chelsea, bringing up six bags of trash from the hillside.

“We could tell – like, we were on leaves – and we were stepping on more trash, like bags full of trash, underneath the leaves,” Lowrance said. “As Indian Mound has gotten cleaner, we’ve been kind of working down toward Gate Four.”

KC Parks Environmental Manager Stephen Van Rhein agrees. He supervised employees and volunteers removing brush, reminding them to focus on eradicating invasive species like honeysuckle, but leave healthy trees. Environmental impact was top of mind at the cleanup.

Overgrown trees are trimmed and invasive trees are removed. Photo by Abby Hoover

“We’re mostly removing tree of heaven, invasive trees, other kinds of junk trees so we can get back and start mowing, keep the honeysuckle out,” Van Rhein said. “We’re going to get this pushed back a bit. But no, we are being very careful about the tree selection that we are removing.”

Park Ranger Tim Bond was at the location a week previous with parks staff, informing those camping there that it was illegal to camp in parks. He pointed them in the direction of nearby homeless assistance agencies, with which they were already familiar.

“My role out here today is if there’s any homeless camps or anything that is still here – I mean, we gave them like a week to move – if there are and they give us problems, that’s why I’m here,” Bond said.

By 10 a.m., they hadn’t encountered anyone still camping in the woods, but the remnants of years of camps were evident.

Crews worked along the Paseo from Missouri to Gate One, and about 30 yards down the trail toward Berkley Riverfront Park.

Crews organize trash found in the woods into piles to be disposed of properly. Photo by Abby Hoover

“There’s a lot to clean up down there, a lot to clean up,” Bond said. “There’s railroad ties and it looks like there’s remnants of an old building because there’s a lot of bricks down there. It’s something we have to do and it’s our responsibility, Parks and Rec, get rid of the honeysuckle so people can see, right? It’d be a great view.”

Bond applauded the park and rec employees who, after working all day at the clean-up, would head home for a few hours to sleep before coming back to start snow operations. The pick-up trucks parked along The Paseo already had plows and salt sprayers attached.

Working in Human Resources for the City for 15 years before retiring, Bond eventually returned as a park ranger since he had a law enforcement background. Now he’s hoping to convince more people to get jobs with the City.

“I love it. I want people to have jobs,” Bond said. “We have openings. Every time I talk to somebody, if you need a job, just call this number or get online or just let me know.”

A KC Park Ambassador picks up litter. Photo by Abby Hoover

The crews and volunteers made noticeable progress last week, and clearing out brush and invasive plants has increased visibility and will make litter collection easier in the future. For more information on KC Parks volunteer opportunities, visit

Want Northeast News articles sent straight to your inbox each week? Subscribe below!
Enter your email address and click on the Get Instant Access button.
We respect your privacy

Comments are closed.

  • Northeast area public pools and spraygrounds

    9 hours ago

    CONCOURSE PARK FOUNTAIN 200 Benton Blvd Open year round. BUDD PARK POOL 5600 Budd Park Esplanade Summer 2022 Season June […]

    Kansas City’s Most Wanted

    June 29th, 2022

    KC Crime Stoppers has partnered with The Northeast News to help track individuals in Northeast KC on the Kansas City’s […]

    Vacant Scarritt School slated for reuse

    June 29th, 2022

    Abby Hoover Managing Editor The Scarritt Elementary School at 3509 Anderson Ave., closed in 2010 during the “right sizing” of […]

    Welcoming KC hosts International Food Tour to celebrate cultures on Independence Ave.

    June 29th, 2022

    EllieAna Hale Editorial Assistant Welcoming KC hosted this year’s KC International Food Tour in Historic Northeast, a day of celebration […]

    State Representative earns Missouri Horace Mann award

    June 29th, 2022

    Michael Bushnell Publisher State Representative Ingrid Burnett (D-19) was awarded the 2022 Horace Mann Award Thursday evening at a reception […]

    American Art Deco: Designing for the People, 1918-1939

    June 29th, 2022

    Sponsored content The Kansas City Museum’s collections of historical materials are an important means of advancing the Museum’s mission and […]

    Community partnerships at the heart of Mattie Rhodes, NEAT Mission

    June 29th, 2022

    Sponsored content Once again the Mattie Rhodes Center’s Northeast facility at 148 N. Topping is sponsoring a series of community […]

    Man sentenced to 28 years for double homicide in 2019

    June 28th, 2022

    By EllieAna Hale Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker announced June 27 that 25-year-old Mario Markworth was sentenced to 28 […]

  • Pedestrian suffers critical injuries in early morning hit and run

    June 23rd, 2022

    Update: The female pedestrian has succumbed to her injuries according to KCPD. A female pedestrian who was standing in the […]

    Cafe Cá Phê hosts fundraising yard sale

    June 22nd, 2022

    EllieAna Hale Editorial Assistant Cafe Cá Phê hosted a Yard Sale Pop-Up Event on June 17 to fundraise and support […]

    World Refugee Day celebration brings together the stories of a diverse community

    June 22nd, 2022

    EllieAna HaleEditorial Assistant On June 18, the North-East Branch of the Kansas City Public Library hosted the city’s annual World […]

    Community Calendar

    June 22nd, 2022

    FRIDAY, JUNE 24 –Welcoming KC Presents the International Food Tour. $30 per person. CLICK HERE MORE MORE DETAILS SATURDAY, JUNE […]

    Sewing Labs welcome international textile recycler

    June 22nd, 2022

    Abby Hoover Managing Editor The Sewing Labs of Kansas City, a nonprofit teaching the legacy of sewing for employment, entrepreneurship, […]

    Students make change in Northeast

    June 22nd, 2022

    Abby Hoover Managing Editor Students from the Ryogoku Soccer Academy are creating change in their community, one project at a […]

    Troost gets creative with business collective

    June 22nd, 2022

    Aniaya Reed Editorial Assistant The Troost Market Collective (TMC) is a non-profit organization whose mission is to create equitable economic […]

    Remember this? 86-year-old Music Hall, Little Theater

    June 20th, 2022

    Eighty-six years ago, on June 14, 1936, the Kansas City Music Hall and Little Theater venue space opened inside Kansas […]

    Arts Asylum presents “Heathers: The Musical”

    June 17th, 2022

    On June 15, Faust Theatre is bringing the dark comedy, “Heathers: The Musical,” to the Arts Asylum through June 25.  […]

    Police report late death near 8th and Benton

    June 16th, 2022

    On May 28, at 5:30 a.m., officers were called to the 3200 block of East 8th Street on a reported […]

    Bushnell talks truck-eating bridge on trucker podcast

    June 15th, 2022

    The OOIDA (Owner-Operator Independent Driver Association), the international trade association representing the interests of independent owner-operators and professional drivers on […]

    Project ElderCool takes on the summer heat with a sustainable solution to heat-related deaths

    June 15th, 2022

    EllieAna Hale Editorial Assistant Summer is here and with that comes excruciating heat and air conditioning systems on blast. But […]

  • Northeast Newscast

  • Faces Of Northeast

  • Remember This?

  • Want articles sent directly to your inbox each week? Subscribe below!
    We respect your privacy and will not distribute your information.