Urban Core Park Users protest against changes at Swope Park

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Pat Clarke, a 3rd District Committeeman, and a group calling themselves Urban Core Park Users are upset at Swope Park's development path. The group is passionate about their perception of how city officials view children in the inner city.

"There's nothing for black folks," said Clarke.

Clarke said the recreational activities in Swope Park are not geared towards the African American community.

"We got soccer villages and everything coming up around us. We got a Frisbee golf across the parking lot, we've got a community garden in the center field of a baseball diamond," said Clarke. "I grew up playing out here."

This group wants the city to put more emphasis on the sports they grew up playing, to preserve what they had for their children.

"We came out here to the parks to play baseball in the summertime, to play basketball courts just to get us a round and have activities to do," said protester Eric Gault.

"With all the crime and violence, without baseball and basketball, what else do you have?" asked Tyrone Davis, another protester.

Clarke said he has been in discussions with city officials to build a softball complex on the site of the softball fields that sit at 69th and Elmwood, but he said so far, the city is not listening and his proposal is not going anywhere.

"I was looking where they are looking as redoing the fountains in Kansas City. They could take that money and build somewhere for those kids to go,” said Clarke. "We are just being wronged as a people in Kansas City. That's a fact."

It is important to note this is their opinion, and fox 4 tried to speak to people in the parks department, 5th ward council members and a representative for the city; however none of our reporter’s numerous calls were returned.

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12 comments

  • greg myers

    wow! how naive some people can be. they need to think about why the inner city is the way it is. when you have black folks killing each other because of a color they are wearing or god forbid you go down the wrong block. you could lose your life over something as trivial as that. a tremendous amount of inner city people do not have much of a conscious when it comes to killing people and destroying “their neighborhoods” this article makes it sound as if they are rats in a cage with no form of entertainment. i live in lees summit and i can say that the inner city element that resides here now is bringing that thug gun toting mentality here and it is sickening to see.. the ignorant gang mentality prevails in the inner city. if you really want to help them then BUILD A SCHOOL WHERE THEY ARE FORCED TO SPEAK ENGLISH! they are all hooked on ebonics

  • Justin

    Really? They complained there was no baseball diamond. Then they said there was a garden in center field of the baseball diamond that was already there. So there was already a baseball diamond there that the black community wasn’t using. They added the soccer and Frisbee golf to get people back to the park. If the blacks aren’t going to use it then maybe someone will. I see it as no matter what they do the blacks won’t be happy. It’s not up to parks and rec to fix the problems in the inner city. You want to fix the problems… change the people. Try speaking proper English. Bill Cosby was right… maybe you should listen to one of your own..

  • Shannon Smith McNeely

    Awfully harsh feedback here….I KNOW inner city kids do benefit from sports and recreation programs, and from the accompnying investment made by their coaches and mentors. My son who is now in the Army, Airborne and on track to be Ranger was hugely impacted by such activities in a healthy manner. His youth football team KC Bulldogs used to practice there at 69th & Elmwood. My son is not black but from a lower socioeconomic strata of KC and I am forever grateful for men such as those interviewed for this story.

  • Jack Lowe

    Disc golf has been a part of Swope Park since 1982, it caters to people of all demographics and skin color. Many updates happen within parks often, using the media is one way to work the place into the arenas, but what about being active with your park and city leaders to help build that infrastructure?

    Personal experience the local disc golf club has donated millions of dollars in volunteerism for not only the disc golf course at Swope and other area parks (not just in Kansas City), but also have given time, and volunteer efforts to other avenues of the parks to beautify them for all to enjoy. Clinics for free, teaching mechanics of the sport are all things that have happened over the years, at least with disc golf.

    It boils down to getting involved locally with what is available to help maintain a better quality of life for you. Only individuals can make that happen, and the amenities that these individuals want may not mirror what the children of today want. Work towards a solution that builds better rapport instead of claiming that things are being taken away. Look at the Southeast Community center that is in Swope Park now, that wasn’t available to these individuals as children, but no thank you for that. Many area and neighborhoods would love to have that available.

    Lets work at targeting programming that works with the desires of the kids and the adults to teach, lets not blame others for working to make changes to improve the quality of life at the parks to entice people to use our great green space.

  • P

    The sad part about this story is that the amenities were already in Swope Park in the Loop Road and the Soccer Village tore down the basketball and softball fields to put in soccer fields that will be fenced and locked and not allowed to be used by the general public. The whole soccer village is a disgrace to this city starting with the funds that were to be used for infrastructural improvements in a neighborhood that is in desperate need of sewer and storm water management. The council person who spearheaded this lied and misappropriated the funds claiming the soccer village was for the urban kids. Not so. The basketball hoops were heavily used in this park and did not have to be destroyed. The residents have a right to complain and this is not about race issues its about greed and corruption.

  • rbit

    …so the city, like many others surrounding it and on the Kansas side as well, updated their soccer fields, to make millions of dollars through tournaments, leagues, and produce more money for the city to provide better infrastructure for the people and its a disgrace? Soccer is the biggest sport in the world. Its a beloved sport that MANY urban youth play, that happen to not be African American, although some of the main stars on the Championship winning Sporting Kansas City team being CJ and Teal are African American. Such a narrow minded point of view. Maybe we should look at programs that invite kids out to the park to play, whatever sport or activity they love, and provide a secure area for them to escape from the harsher areas they live, instead of what most kids are doing which is staying inside and watching TV or playing video games. The shrinking population of basketball or baseball players is not due to lack of places to play but the lack of interest. Both sports have seen a dramatic down turn in attendance, yet soccer has risen every year over the last 5 years (league wide) and has surpassed both the NBA and the NHL. Two of the biggest trending sports right now are soccer and disc golf within the KC metro area. More disc golf courses and soccer fields have been built by all the metropolitan/suburban cities surrounding KCMO and within it than basketball, baseball, and football combined over the last 5 years. Tell your kids to come out and play, just don’t be mad that they will pick up a disc or a soccer ball rather than chase your faded high school basketball dreams, and don’t be mad at a city for capitalizing on a profitable idea to fund more projects and employ more workers so that your city can grow and become better.