Archive for Thursday, April 24, 2008

Lions Park has rich history of renovations

April 24, 2008

The Lions Park in Bonner Springs is undergoing a long-overdue facelift under the direction of Skip Dobbs, the city recreational director, who has been very active in the Bonner Springs' recreational needs since taking over the job. Dobbs presently is making improvements to the baseball field by fixing the fences, putting in a new backstop, new dugouts with new benches, and a warning track inside the fence.

Dobbs also has made improvements at the Aquatic Center by installing more playground equipment, and he informs me he is hopeful of having enough room to build a soccer field at the location. These new improvements are a far cry from the original ones. As chairman of the Parks and Recreation Commission back in the early 1950s, we inherited a ball field with a backstop that was a monstrosity. We had a three-hole outhouse that served as a restroom that was later replaced with a cement-block structure that included running water.

One day after a team practice on the field, Bill Tinberg, who was also a member of the Parks and Recreation Commission, and Lyle Inglehart, who was a coach in our little league program and a resident of Piper, were talking. The major part of our discussions was the backstop that needed to be replaced. The backstop consisted of five or six huge telephone poles with chicken wire stretched between the poles to serve as the backstop. I must have used 100 pounds of hog rings repairing the chicken wire. Inglehart said, "If you can get me the materials, I can weld a backstop on the spot."

The next problem was getting the materials, and I contacted Homer Meisie of the Greeley Gas Company and asked if he had any used pipe he could donate for the backstop. Meisie said they'd just removed all of the pipe from the Bonner bridge that was destroyed in the 1951 flood and let us have it.

Inglehart constructed a backstop that has served its purpose for 50 years or more and has withstood many storms. In the 1970s, Recreation Director Dick Burns designed a combination concession stand, restrooms, and a garage to park our tractor. The council approved the project and the facility now stands as one of the bright spots of Lions Park. Dobbs also told me they have applied acoustical tile in Jim's Gym that is going to make it much better for plays and events in the community center. I also was informed by Dobbs that the city had hired Mike Martin, who has been assigned to all the parks including Lions Park. Martin has been around the block a few times and will do a great job in preparing the fields to play.

Bonner Springs, with its state of the art Aquatic Center, is drawing swimmers from all around the area, and Dobbs has made several improvements by adding more playground equipment. He says more improvements are planned on the second and third fields at Lions Park because it is used a lot in the summertime.

I told Dobbs, who is assisted by Barbara Burdine, to keep up the good work in providing recreation for the residents of Bonner Springs.

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