History of R Park
This 5.4-acre area was once inhabited by Native Americans of the Kansa tribe, who were later followed by peoples of the Shawnee and other tribes. The property eventually became part of a farmstead which included the Shawnee Indian Mission.
In 1951 the City of Roeland Park was incorporated and Roeland Park Elementary School opened at this location. The school occupied this site for 52 years, closing in 2003. The history of R Park as we know it today began when the City purchased the site of the old school in 2005.
Shortly after the site was purchased, citizens of Roeland Park organized and urged the City to save this last viable piece of green space as a park instead of a suggested housing development. In 2010, the site is officially dedicated as a City park. The City sought citizen input on how the park should be developed and held a contest where the name R Park was chosen.
In 2011, the old school building was razed and a $500,000 master plan for park is developed by local park design company, Clark Enersen Partners, using input from citizen meetings and public surveys. Feeling the effects of the national recession, the City of Roeland Park learns that the local Wal-Mart will close. With the loss of this major tax income, City development projects such as parks are removed from the budget.
A grassroots group of citizens decided to step up to assure that Roeland Park’s community will have an inviting green space to benefit the health and well-being of current and future generations. Eight dedicated men and women of differing ages and backgrounds met on Feb. 24, 2014, to address the development needs of R Park in the face of the City’s budget austerity and the need for fundraising more than $400,000 to realize R Park’s master plan. They name their volunteer group Citizens Fundraising Initiative for R Park and immediately begin to plan a series of fundraising projects to benefit R Park.
The Parks and Trees Committee designated the building of a walking trail as the first fundraising project. The City of Roeland Park is awarded a matching grant from Sunflower Foundation of Kansas for the construction of the walking trail, 20 trees planted along the trail and R Park signage. The City of Roeland Park agrees to match the cost of trees and signage and the Citizens Fundraising Initiative for R Park will match the funds for the trail.
A limestone walking trail is completed by Synergy Construction Company in late 2014. The trail loops through the park, delineating and highlighting future areas of R Park development.
Shortly after the completion of the walking trail, 43 ash trees that line R Park are victims of the Emerald Ash Borer and are removed. Twenty new trees are planted as part of the festivities for Earth Day in 2015. Money for this project came from matching funds from the City of Roeland Park and the grant from the Sunflower Foundation of Kansas. Learn more about the new trees in R Park.
The Citizens Fundraising Initiative for R Park will continue to work with the City of Roeland Park toward future development of the park. If you would like to make a gift to support improvements to R Park, please mail a check made out to Roeland Park Community Foundation, memo: R Park Amenity to:Roeland Park City Hall
4600 W. 51st Street
Roeland Park, KS 66205
Attn: Kelley Bohon
Contributions of any amount are welcome and appreciated!