Sticky notes on story boards gave voice to ideas and suggestions that Carthage residents had for their local parks system.

Sticky notes on story boards gave voice to ideas and suggestions that Carthage residents had for their local parks system.

Students from Drury University, who are helping a committee of local residents conduct a “visioning study” about the future of Carthage parks, asked the more than 60 people who attended a meeting last week to put their ideas on self-sticking note paper and stick those to story boards the students had prepared for the first of three public meetings.

“Updated play equipment and swings,” one note said. “Everything is old and dangerous, paint peeling, poor equipment. It's a mess.”

“Would love to see a playing surface somewhere in town for kids with disabilities,” said another note. “Similar to 'Miracle league' in Joplin.”

“More organized special athletic events,” another note said. “Like bike rides, 5K runs.”
“Kids pool @ Central Park open on weekends,” said another note. “Swimming pool/water park with lap lanes, indoor/outdoor.”

“Repair existing pool, Rock Stadium and Skating Rink,” said another note.

In addition to the dozens of notes, the five Drury University students who led the meeting, along with their advisor, Jay Garrett, listened as residents talked about how they use Carthage's parks.

“I've lived here for six years,” said Linda Smith. “When we were looking for a place to move, we went to the parks, because our children were younger then, and I was very disappointed in the condition of all the parks in the area, because they weren't very child friendly. We've still got some of the same swings they probably had when I was growing up. A lot of that has just not been changed.”

The students also took an electronic survey, with those attending the meeting using hand remotes to answer questions about the various parks.

Residents who attended the meeting said the populations who use many of the parks are under-represented.

Some residents said they attended the meeting to make sure one specific part of the parks or another received the attention they felt it deserved.

Darren Wallace, a member of the Carthage Aquatic Team's board, said he and a group of parents of swimmers seeking to make sure their desire for improvements to the Municipal Park Swimming Pool were heard.

Wallace said his board wanted to work with the city to raise the money needed for major improvements to the pool. His group has started a page on Facebook called the Carthage Aquatics Facility Interest Group and they've put a link to an online survey about the pool on that page.

Others at the meeting spoke about the Jasper County Youth Fair Board's contribution to improving the youth fair buildings in Municipal Park.

Garrett said the students will take the information from this meeting and turn it into an initial concept document.

They will bring the document back to Carthage for another public meeting from 6 p.m.-8 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 10. That meeting will also be held at Municipal Hall.

Plans call for a third public meeting from 6 p.m.-8 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 29 to finalize the concept document with the students presenting the visioning plan at another public meeting from 6 p.m.-8 p.m., Thursday, Dec. 5.