All four Roanoke Park area neighborhoods were represented in the walk around Gillham Park on Saturday morning, April 17, 2010. Parks maven and chief honeysuckle bush warrior, Dona Boley led the tour and had plenty of photos to show what the park had looked like at the turns of the last two centuries. At the turn of the 20th Century it was gravel roads with horse drawn carriages moving along still familiar roads. The turn of this century photos showed the once beautiful grounds scarily obscured by unchecked bush honeysuckle.
You must see it today! It is beginning to regain its original grandeur with restored walkways and the old stone steps some of which had been buried in the invasive honeysuckle. If you didn’t walk on April 17 or haven’t noticed recently, take a drive down Gillham road to see what a lot of neighbors have accomplished in a short period of time to begin restoring the park as one of the key pods in the Kessler master PLAN of the unique Kansas City parks “system”.
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The growing group of stakeholders in Roanoke Park expanded by 68% from the first walk in Gillham Park. Many more came from all four nearby neighborhoods of Coleman Highlands, Roanoke, Valentine and Volker.
This walk, on May Day 2010, compared the recently renovated Gillham Park to what might be in Roanoke. Dona Boley began the walk with a brief history of the storied Kessler Park System that makes Kansas City unique among American Cities.
Roanoke Park is one of the “pods” in the overall Kessler system. In fact Roanoke Park is one of the best jewels in the system even though somewhat tarnished from lack of a focused upkeep plan over the past 100 years.
Dona pointed out a favorable wind already blows across Roanoke park:
Dona also provided some great historic photos that will soon be added to roanokeparkkc.org so we have a reference point to see the change in the park over time.
Browse here to see Dona's powerpoint on the history of KC's parks and boulevards system, since edited and expanded to include more Roanoke Park specific information.
Enjoy the park, and stay safe. While Kansas City's mask mandate has been lifted, our area's vaccination rate and the emergence of new variants calls for maintaining caution to reduce transmission. Please enjoy the park responsibly by spreading out. The Westport-Roanoke Community Center is open again after its recent construction closure, but with limited access. Please click their link above and call for the latest info. Here are KCMO Parks Dept. COVID-19 Updates and the latest KCMO COVID-19 updates from the city. To avoid damaging trails, check Trail Status before biking or hiking off road. ("Rozarks" = Roanoke Park's 2.5 miles plus Rosedale's 3.5 miles.)