Connecting state and local government leaders
The National Recreation and Park Association teamed up with St. Louis' regional parks and trails district to create a community center.
Wellston, Missouri, is home to a working class community with a high proportion of single moms that, until recently, lacked a social center for their children to play.
An industrial jurisdiction in the St. Louis metropolitan area where the National Recreation and Park Association held its annual conference earlier this month, Wellston was selected for the organization’s 2016 Parks Build Community initiative.
Along with the Great Rivers Greenway, St. Louis’ regional parks and trails district, NRPA turned one of Wellston’s vacant fields into Trojan Park.
“What we wanted to do is make the community at the center of the project and really have a community space that functions, not only for play, but functions for community gatherings,” Neil Eisenberger, Forum Studio senior landscape architect and associate principal, says in this NRPA video.
Forum Studio and 27 other companies offered free services or equipment for the park, which gets its name from defunct Wellston High School’s old mascot—for greater sense of place.
The new park sits in the center of the seven-mile St. Vincent Greenway, strengthening the grounds.
“While a park is not necessarily what people think of when they think of economic development, I truly believe that Trojan Park is the highest and best use,” says Megan Riechmann, GRG project manager. “And I think it’s really going to make an impact on the surrounding properties and the overall economic development of both Wellston and the city of St. Louis.”
Quality of life is improved by the park in other ways as well, as it includes features for use by people with mobility impairment.
“Our community and our kids need a safe haven to go,” says Mayor Nathaniel Griffin. “A park seems like it’s just a little thing, but when you see children running and exerting their positive energy, these things give us a great outlet to grow into ourselves and grow into society.”
Dave Nyczepir is a News Editor at Route Fifty and is based in Washington D.C.