Community members divided over a plan to move a neighborhood park
JEFFERSON CITY - A proposed plan to expand the Jefferson City National Cemetery across the street and move a park is receiving some community backlash.
The plan would move East Miller Street Neighborhood Park across U.S. HWY 50.
Hans Overton has been protesting the plan outside city hall every day for the past week.
“I understand progress in a community, but tearing a park down is not progress,” he said.
Overton said he has lived in Jefferson City for 33 years and that the park should stay where it is because it’s a central part of the community.
“When we have picnics and barbecues and fraternity and sorority and church events we go to that park,” he said. “That’s the park we use.”
East Miller Street Neighborhood Park is a small park with a jungle gym, three slides, two swings, and a basketball court, but Overton said it represents a much bigger picture.
“It should stay where it is because of the history, because of the people who went there years ago to raise their children,” he said.
He said he is tired of seeing his community disappear.
“We've lost businesses over the years on the East end of town and this little park is just a niche of what’s left in the community,” he said.
Overton created a petition on change.org called "Save the Black Top / East Miller Park," which has 273 signatures as of Friday.
President of the Jefferson City Veterans Council Don Hentges supports the plan to expand the veteran’s cemetery. He said he thinks its a win win situation.
"The park will be moved across the highway where more children can have access to it and it would be better than the current park, so the community would loose nothing and they would actually gain in the process because they would have a better park and it would be closer to where the kids are," he said.
Hentges said the expansion is much needed. The cemetery has been full since 1969. Jefferson City Veterans' are currently being buried at Harrisonville, Fort Leonard Wood, Jefferson Barracks or a private cemetery."
"Most of the cemeteries around here have a veterans' section, but it's still cost the veteran's family money to be buried there so this way they would be able to be buried with no cost to the family," he said.
He said not being able to bury veterans from their hometown is doing them a dishonor.
"A way we can remember our veterans is to honor and take care of them and when they are buried 75 miles away they tend to get forgotten especially by the people who aren't specifically family," he said.
Hentges said the park board and Jefferson City are in favor of the expansion.
The city has not made a decision yet about the expansion of the cemetery and relocation of East Miller Park.