(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) Dozens of families made their way out to Patee Park Wednesday evening to check out the newly installed playground equipment.
"Playgrounds provide a lot of different services, you know. They provide social, physical, emotional," Chuck Kempf, Parks and Recreation director, said. "If you go to an open, green, grassy field that's fine, kids can use their imagination. Then, playgrounds just kind of escalate that opportunity for imaginative play."
However, Patee Park isn't the only playground to receive an upgrade. Kempf said six parks in total have already or will be getting new equipment installed.
Three of the six parks are already finished, those being Hochman, Rest Square and Patee Parks. The department is currently working to finish Seitz Park in the next week or so, with Mary and College Hill Parks coming soon after.
"When we started noticing the deterioration and the fact that there was - that playgrounds were just disappearing, we really thought it was important to re-establish those playgrounds in those neighborhoods," Kempf said.
He added the city has fewer parks currently than it did in past years. A lot of the old playground equipment is outdated, some dating back 40 to 50 years.
For this reason, the City of St. Joseph provided the Parks Department with existing Community Development Block Grant (CBDG) funds to help pay for the improvements with the rest coming from CIP funding.
"These areas are predominately residential in and around, and so the opportunity to help provide an amenity to an area that has youth that could benefit from new playground equipment was something we were excited to partner with the parks department with," Clint Thompson, planning and community development director, said.
Kempf mentioned the money they received from the city helped to expedite the construction process for the new playgrounds. In total, Thompson said the Parks and Rec Department received about $420,000 in CBDG funds for all six parks.
"The importance of adding a little of the city's resources to improve these conditions really does eliminate the overall negative appearance that may exist within a community and helps bring back some neighborhood pride as well," Thompson said.
Most of the designs for the parks were done by the manufacturers, but Kempf said the equipment at Patee Park was meant to keep with the overall aesthetic of the neighborhood.
"We wanted it either have a western theme or a train theme, and this particular company that presented this actually accomplished both of those," Kempf said.
To find the location of the six parks, visit the Parks and Recreation Department's Park Map by clicking here.