For an entire generation, Tom Lovell led the Lee's Summit Parks and Recreation department and helped the City develop a nationally recognized system of neighborhood parks and community centers. But this spring, Lovell announced his retirement after 38 years, and the department is in the beginning stages of planning for its next leader.
In the meantime, long-time department executive, Joe Snook, has taken the helm as interim Parks Administrator. Snook has been with the department for the past 16 years, serving as Superintendent of Recreation, and most recently as Assistant Parks Administrator. Snook has said he plans to make himself a candidate in the Lee's Summit Parks and Recreation Board of Director's search for a replacement.
"My role as interim administrator is to just keep our train on the tracks," Snook said. "My goal is to keep us focused on some big projects we have coming up and keep things moving forward. We've got a lot of projects coming on line right now that we're excited about. Many of them are related to the sales tax voters recently passed. So there's a lot of planning to do to get those projects going. And thine we have summer getting ready to start, which is the biggest time of year for our department. So, this interim role is more about keeping us focused and moving forward."
Among the projects Snook referred to are a new splash pad at Howard Park, a new play area at Hartman Park, major renovations and additions at Lea McKeighan North and finalization and implementation of a master plan for Bailey Farm Park.
"As assistant director, i wasn't directly responsible for all of these projects," Snook said. "And now I will be intimately aware of them and do everything I can to help the staff get what they need to be successful in the completion of these important community projects."
At Lea Mckeighan North, plans call for the addition of a new ice rink, splash pad, playground, walking trail and improvements to the existing skate park. Snook said, planners have been including users of the skate park in conversations about possible improvements and additions. At the top of users' list, he said, are lights to allow for night use.
"I'm not saying that 100 percent we're going to add lights," he said. "But it is something they've expressed a desire for and we want to find ways to include some of the things they've asked for."
At Bailey Farm Park, possible additions and improvements include new playground facilities, expansion of the community garden, and indoor and outdoor event spaces. Additionally, the department is working on a trail study looking into a possible connection between Lee's Summit and its southeastern neighbor, Pleasant Hill. The department has partnered with Kansas City-based Vireo for the study, which Snook expects to be completed relatively soon.
News & Notes from Legacy Park
Legacy Park has long offered canoes and paddle boards for rent at its lake. Beginning this year, those rentals will now be free. Also beginning this summer, the department has formed a partnership with Bike Stop to have free bicycle rentals available for use on the trails in and around Legacy Park.
Now in it's second season of operation, the Legacy Park amphitheater has 12 events planned for summer 2017. On the schedule are 5 ticketed events and 7 admission-free events. The summer 2017 schedule for the amphitheater is as follows:
- May 19 — Community of the Arts Celebration (Free admission)
- May 20 — Memories of Motown (The Drifters, The Coasters and The Platters) (Ticketed event)
- June 1 — The Peanuts* (Free admission)
- June 17 — Flashback to Folk (Free admission)
- July 6 — BIG* (Free admission)
- July 21 — Jamaican Jam (Free admission)
- July 29 — Georgia Satellites with Billy Royce and Triple Trouble, the Stevie Ray Vaughan Experience (Ticketed event)
- August 3 — The Croods* (Free admission)
- August 4 — Blues Fest (Free admission)
- August 5 — Uncle Kracker (Ticketed event)
- August 12 — Monsters of Mock (Poison Overdose, Almost Kiss and KC/DC) (Ticketed event)
- September 15 — William Michael Morgan (Ticketed event)
* Bring the entire family to the Legacy Park Amphitheater to watch a movie under the stars. Bring a blanket or lawn chair to sit on. Admission is Free. No outside food or beverages will be allowed. Concessions will be available. Gates open at 7pm and the movie will begin around dark (8:45pm).