Bringing it back to life: Volunteers help clean up parts of Kessler Park described as a landfill

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. – A group of volunteers have taken it upon themselves to clean up Cliff Drive in Kessler Park.

On Tuesday, FOX4 shared a video of the park, taken by a man who described Cliff Drive as a “landfill.” The man behind the video, John Bordeau, made it in hopes that it would get the attention of city leaders and elected officials.

Instead of waiting for the city, Heather Johnson, a former resident of the Northeast neighborhood, decided to do something about the mess.

“I don’t understand how people allow it to get this bad,” Johnson said. “You can’t even walk down there without stepping on a piece of trash.”

On Friday, Johnson and a handful of volunteers picked up some of the trash and debris that’s littered in the woods along the scenic byway. Among the mess, they found a couple of couches, bags full of trash, drug paraphernalia and beer bottles.

“I have a 3-year-old, and I don’t want him to see this,” Johnson said. “I want him to be able to experience the parks the way I did when I was younger.”

“I remember coming here when I was a kid with my family and it’s not the same,” said John O’Conner, who volunteered his time to help clean up the park.

He recognized the group of volunteers have their work cut out for them.

“Just the amount of trash that’s here over the 300 acres that is this park, it’s going to take months and months of cleaning,” O’Conner said.

He spends a lot of time with friends riding scooters through the park. Like Johnson, he said preserving the park isn’t about him. It’s for future generations.

“Don’t you want them to enjoy a park like this and be able to walk through the woods without looking at all this dumping going on? It’s just ridiculous because I think about the kids,” he said.

Their plea to illegal dumpers?

“I would love if they’d stop,” Johnson said.

Until that happens, the group of good neighbors plan to keep doing their part to keep the trash off Cliff Drive.

“We’re trying to bring it back to life,” O’Conner added.

Johnson created a Facebook group called “Clean Up Kessler Park.” Her goal is to get a group of volunteers to clean up the park at least once a week.

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