Monday, February 08, 2010

Hyde Park - Making Kansas City Just a Little More Dangerous?

Just north of 38th Street, between the north and southbound lanes of Gillham Road, is one of Kansas City's prettiest little parks. It consists of a small valley or a large ravine, with stairs leading down into it from the north end, while the south end is open and inviting. There are few improvements - a couple picnic tables, a swingset, some tennis courts, and street lights.

I've walked down there, and it's a quiet, open, slightly cooler place to escape road noise and surround yourself with pretty stone formations. You can imagine what it was like when it was a golf course, and cows would graze on the greens.

Unfortunately, the clock is ticking on this little gem. Over the years, it will be transforming into a heavily wooded sinkhole choked with leaves and littered with crime. In recent months, some insane arborist has planted dozens of trees throughout the park, transforming its future into a dark forest where crime can flourish and its bucolic past will be obliterated.

Right now, the impact is minimal, but the 30+ trees are sprinkled throughout the small park, spaced as if intended to block sight-lines and create a claustrophobic forest from a secluded open space. They are merely saplings now, but, if allowed to grow, they will change forever the look and feel of what our ancestors saw on the wagon trail between Independence and Westport, perhaps on their way to Santa Fe.

I'm sure that whoever decided that this small patch of historical ground could somehow be improved by jamming as many trees as possible into its open spaces was well-intentioned. Trees are beautiful and they help the environment.

But when trees become a dense, dark forest and crowd out an historic, beautiful space, they lose some of their beauty. If you want to enjoy Hyde Park, you'd better do so in the next couple years.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why not write your Councilperson?

2/08/2010 4:52 PM  
Anonymous hyde park resident said...

actually, the park WAS a hive of crime until the group of volunteers you are deriding stepped up and devoted many, many hours to clear truckloads of brush and weeds - and, yes, plant trees. now it is safer than ever, and some nice trees will make it an even better place to gather and have events.

further, i am not sure we should pine for the days when this area was a golf course. i cannot imagine a more inefficient, wasteful use of urban greenspace.

2/10/2010 3:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Parks & Recreation Dept. planted the trees--maybe Hyde Park resident/Parks Board member Aggie Stackhaus can address this.

2/10/2010 8:56 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

Hyde Park resident - I didn't deride any volunteers, did I? And I didn't pine for the days when the area was a golf course, did I? You should try to read a bit more carefully.

The fact is, it's too many trees and it's going to make the park dangerously dark and create too many hiding places for nefarious activities. I applaud the work of the volunteers in the past, but this is a bad idea.

2/10/2010 9:12 PM  
Anonymous Brent said...


Your POV is "interesting" on this one. As Hyde Park resident pointed out, 3-4 years ago that park was a safe haven for crime and prostitution. It was not uncommon to see people in the brush drinking, doing drugs or with prostitutes. But over the past couple of years, they've redone the tennis courts, cleared the brush, and fixed all of the old stone stairs. The park looks great now. Most of it was done with private funding by a private citizen.

I'm not sure about some of the trees that were planted, but, the ones that are there will not live foreever -- so it would make sense that some new trees would need to be planted. As long as the brush is maintained, there is no reason the park can't continue to be used the way it has the last 2 years -- by picnicking families, dog owners and tennis players.

2/16/2010 3:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

With that crime filled neighborhood of Old Hyde Park on the west side and Gillham lined with crappy apartments plus all the unneeded new trees that sweet little park doesn't stand a chance. :(

2/28/2010 1:04 PM  

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