Published December 18, 2014
By David Tuma, The Belton Journal
It all started with an idea from Belton’s Mack Parker. Several years ago, Parker initiated the thought of a special needs playground in Belton. He presented the idea to the Belton City Council. A special needs park was approved by the City Council and the Parks Board in 2012.
Funding was a different story. The Belton Lion’s Club eventually took over the project and was led by club member Robert Jones. They raised over $50,000 locally. The City of Belton matched the $50,000 from the Capital Improvement Project funds. Jones also wrote a grant for $75,000, which was approved by Lions Club International.
Originally the playground equipment was to be installed at another park at a fraction of the size of the current facility.
However, when final plans were drawn up, the city and Lions Club decided the best place for the playground was Heritage Park. The playground features handicapped access for those playing on the equipment as well as those who might watch. It is a one-of-a-kind facility for the area.
“This is another great day in Belton,” City Manager Sam Listi said. “It all started with an idea from Mack Parker. Both the Belton Lions Club and Lions International were a major part of this project, and local citizens contributed over $50,000. Robert Jones nurtured the project and wrote the grant application. He coordinated this project with the city and made it a reality.”
The playground was more than expected. Not only does it allow handicapped access, but all children can use the facility. The turf is so soft you could sleep on it. There is a variety of different things to do. It simply has to be seen to understand how much there is for children to do.
“This project started years ago and involved several organizations,” Jones said. “The Parks Department with the City of Belton was instrumental in getting this park looking the way you see it today. We Build Fun (the project’s contractor) worked with us on the design.”
We Build Fun was on hand for the grand opening, and they were included in the festivities.
Joe Baisden, who has been a member of the Lions Club for decades, also made an appearance at the grand opening. He had to stay in the vehicle, but multiple members of the community went over to speak with him.
The playground is located within Heritage Park, 100 Park Ave., just behind Summer Fun Water Park.