A proposed downtown pocket park likely will become a reality after the necessary funds were quickly raised.

Rod Landrum, a member of SEK Point of Pride, told commissioners during a Thursday work session that the group met its fundraising goal.

“It’s really exciting,” Landrum said.

Originally estimated at $48,000, Landrum said on Friday that the group needed only $46,900 because of some in-kind donations.

City Manager Debbie Lamb said she would add approval of the park to the agenda for the commission’s regular meeting Tuesday. The agenda didn’t include the issue as of Friday evening, but it could still be added during the meeting. If so, the commissioners also could vote to name the park The Gathering Place as recommended by the lead donor, Pam Cress, who gave $15,000 in honor of her late husband, Chuck Spellman.

Commissioners have spoken favorably about the park, which would be built on an empty city-owned lot on the south side of the 1800 block of Main Street. The city has owned the lot since receiving it in exchange for giving Acme Cinema economic development incentives to rebuild in a new location after the Parsons Theatre was destroyed in a fire.

SEK Point of Pride only started raising funds for the project in the spring. 

“This is one of the easiest projects I’ve ever had the opportunity to work on. Here’s why: the support for this park has been unbelievable from the businesses and individuals,” Landrum said.

The group received donations as small as $10 and besides Cress’ donation of $15,000, there were donations of $3,000 and $5,000. Labette Health pledged $10,000 last week to put the fundraising effort over the top.

“It didn’t matter how much, each one of them added up,” Landrum said.

The city’s economic development director, Jim Zaleski, is working with SEK Point of Pride on the details of the park, ensuring everything will be done correctly.

Zaleski said the pocket park would make three empty lots across the street more desirable for potential developers. The Community Development Corp., a private group, owns the lots that have been empty for many years.

The park design features east/west and north/south walkways intersecting at a big fountain in the center of the park. The park would be sodded with grass, and there would be bushes, shrubs and ornamental grasses surrounding the fountain. There would be an underground sprinkler system and lighting, along with benches. An entry arch with the name of the park matching the large downtown arch stretching over Main Street would be built.

Plans have changed as suggestions have been made, leading SEK Point of Pride to plan a second phase of fundraising. Tax-deductible donations can be made for the park through the Parsons Area Community Foundation. Landrum said the second phase will consist of a few extra amenities, such as lighting, extra benches and additional shrubs. The group already has ordered those but still needs to raise funds for them. The lights will match the downtown streetlights. Original plans called for just two benches, but now there will be five.

Zaleski said light posts in the park will have 110-volt outlets. There also will be two 50-amp drop boxes to allow for food trucks or other features for special events.

In another issue during the Tuesday meeting, the commission plans to hear a presentation from AAA Kansas about the organization awarding the Parsons Police Department a Community Traffic Safety Platinum Award for 2020.

The commissioners will meet at 6 p.m. Tuesday in the commission room at the Parsons Municipal Building.

In other business the commissioners will consider:

— Approving payment of $120,176.85 to Heck & Wicker Construction Inc. for work on a project that is improving 16th Street from Clark Avenue to Broadway Avenue. The commissioners also will consider approval of $112,787.54 to TranSystems Corp. for engineering inspection services on the project. The Kansas Department of Transportation will pay for all of the construction costs while the city is paying for the engineering. The city staff had been told KDOT would only pay up to $1.5 million of the $1.9 million project, but on Thursday City Manager Debbie Lamb said KDOT now plans to pay the full amount.

— Approving payment of $38,640 to Burns & McDonnell Engineering for design services on a Parsons Tri-City Airport runway maintenance project. The Federal Aviation Administration will pay for 90% of the project.

— Approving payment of $11,823 to HDR Engineering Inc. for work on the design of a wastewater treatment plant peak-flow pump station. They also will consider setting 1:30 p.m. Oct. 1 as the time to receive bids on the project.

— Approving an ordinance that would vacate the alley between Main Street and Broadway Avenue from South 13th Street to Heacock Avenue. The Parsons Planning Commission recommended the vacation at the request of Labette Community College.

— Approving a resolution to set 6 p.m. Oct. 19 as the time for a public hearing regarding the possible condemnation of a fire-damaged house at 2301 Briggs Ave. owned by Robert Dutton.

— Approving a resolution that would declare the fire-damaged house at 2211 Washington Ave. owned by Zacharia and Heather Cook unsafe and giving the owners a deadline of Oct. 5 for repair or removal of the house.

— Approving a change order on a contract with RenoSys Corp. on the Parsons Municipal Swimming Pool to upgrade the included 10-year warranty to a 15-year warranty. The company is replacing the gutter and liner of the pool.

— Approving the closure of Washington Avenue from 17th Street to Central Avenue for a Parsons High School Honor Flight fundraiser, a 0.1K fun run, from 2 to 7 p.m. Oct. 17. The event would include food trucks.

— Approving an ordinance levying special assessments on lots liable for the cost of mowing and trash removal for January through July in the total amount of $4,109.20.

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