May 21, 2014

News Release

For Immediate Release

Park Board to rededicate Westport School-Park, host play day

The Springfield-Greene County Park Board, in partnership with Springfield Public Schools, will rededicate Westport School-Park Wednesday, May 28, at noon, at 3100 W. Mt. Vernon St.

The rededication includes ribbon-cutting ceremonies for the new Betty and Bobby Allison Westport School-Park Playground, adjacent to Westport School; and the new Hailey’s Playground, celebrating the life of Hailey Owens. Hailey was a 4th grader at Westport School.

The idea of Hailey’s Playground originated with Springfield businessman and philanthropist Bobby Allison, whose family has generously supported numerous Park Board facilities and programs for many years.

“Bobby is a donor with a very big heart, and he approached both the Park Board and Hailey’s family. All of us felt this would be very meaningful and appropriate,” said Bob Belote, Parks Director. “Parks are where our community goes to play, to relax, to reflect, and in some cases, to heal. We feel this playground is a real good fit, as Hailey’s family has shared with us how she loved going to Westport School and loved playing at the park.”

After the ceremony, the Park Board will host a community picnic at the new Westport Picnic Pavilion, as well as free games in the park and free swimming at Westport Pool.

Westport School-Park has undergone a two-year transformation, starting with the 2012 renovation of Westport Pool, a $608,000 project funded by the voter-approved 2006 Parks Sales Tax. Springfield Public Schools has since expanded Westport School. The school expansion displaced the school’s former playground, but through a partnership with the School-Park (SPARC) program, the playground was relocated onto Parks property.

The new Betty and Bobby Allison Westport School-Park Playground now serves Westport students when school is in session as well as the public when school is out. A significant donation by Betty and Bobby Allison covered both the cost of this playground and new equipment in Hailey’s Playground. Playground manufacturer GameTime also contributed, as part of an ongoing school playground demonstration project with Springfield Public Schools and the Park Board. Additional donations by the Allison family funded new signage in the park and allowed the Westport school track, also on Parks property, to be resurfaced with asphalt.

The Park Board has also built the new Westport Park Pavilion, as well as resurfaced and repainted the park’s basketball and tennis courts. These improvements, totaling $210,000, were funded by the 2006 Parks Sales Tax.

The May 28 schedule includes:

The 16-acre Westport Park was established in 1956, with the original Westport Pool added in 1977. Westport School is one of 21 school-park sites included in the SPARC program, a partnership between the Park Board and Springfield Public Schools. SPARC provides after-school, summer camp and youth sports programming at sites shared by schools and parks.

For more information and media inquiries, contact Jenny Fillmer Edwards, Public Information Officer at the Springfield-Greene County Park Board, at 417-874-2176 or 471-224-5510.