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Give your input on the Lake Springfield Master Plan: An opportunity for historical reimagining

Springfield has a golden opportunity to share their dreams for enhancement of the Lake Springfield by Francine Pratt

Springfield, MO—Did you know 36 percent of Springfield’s water has come from James River over the past five years? I learned this information from a neighborhood meeting that took place at the Lake Springfield Boathouse. The meeting shared information and gathered input from neighbors who live close to the lake. This little bit of historical information made me think about other historical facts about this land. According to some research I did through, I learned Greene County was known as “Osage County” or the County of Osage Indians prior to the War of 1812. The Osage Indians hunted in the forests, fished in the streams, and camped on the grounds. After the War of 1812, the Kickapoo tribe of Indians built a town on the present site of Springfield and occupied this area for several years. I also learned there are current Native American protective areas in the Lake Springfield area.
City Utilities provided some historical information at this neighborhood meeting regarding the original design for Lake Springfield. In 1957, Lake Springfield was created by building a dam on James River to support the cooling needs of the James River Power Plant. The Power Point increased the population in Springfield by almost 30 percent with the ability to provide affordable utilities. In the early 1990’s, the Missouri Department of Conservation partnered with City Utilities to add a boat ramp, fishing dock, and several fishing platforms. The Lake Springfield Park and the Boathouse became a part of the Springfield-Greene County Park system because of a long-term lease with City Utilities, which is still in place today.
As I strolled through the various grounds of Lake Springfield, which is currently only possible by having some type of transportation, I started asking myself if Springfield area community members know the beauty of what is out here. I thought of all the family reunions and events I have seen at Silver Springs Park and wondered if the pavilions and waterways are utilized by people of culture. I thought of Ms. Alma Clay and wondered what stories she could talk about the history of Black people being able to use parks other than Silver Springs Park. What would the ancestors say who lived in this area but could not utilize the beautiful grounds and waterways? I thought about Barry Hairston and his family who are avid hunters and love to fish. Do they utilize Lake Springfield?
Springfield has a golden opportunity to share their dreams for enhancement of the Lake Springfield subarea. The ability to reimagine what could happen with extended trails, other water sports, and recreational amenities is an opportunity for all who call Springfield home. Imagine bringing the rich history of this land to the surface and making sure community members can share their lived experiences and offer ideas.
A Master Plan for the Lake Springfield area is going to be developed through a federal economic development administration planning grant. You have an opportunity to participate in this community planning meeting to share your history, your ideas, your imagination. The Lake Springfield Master Plan Kick-Off Event will take place at the Springfield Art Museum, located at 1111 E. Brookside Drive, from 5:00 to 7:00 P.M. on November 17, 2022. Livestream is available through LAKESGFMASTERPLAN.COM.
The James River Power Plant and Lake Springfield has served the area well for 65 years. Be a part of the discussion to develop plans for the next 65 years for our children, our grandchildren and all those who call Springfield home!

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