Saturday, February 16, 2008

About That Tricycle Park.....

It took awhile, but the Bus finally tracked down some solid information about the proposed tricycle park. We won't be giving our opinion about the proposed park (you know we got one), we'll just be presenting the facts of the matter here and some questions we have about Zella Samuels.

Parks Director Jodie Adams said The Park would be part of an 18-acre tract that Zella Samuels donated to the city before she died. Samuels stipulated the land — appraised at $625,000 — had to be used as a park for very young children.

Since we know that Samuels gave the land to the city/parks before she died, I wanted to find her obituary, if she died in Springfield. But I didn't know her death date or town of death. I searched the online obituaries on the SN-L and could find no obit for Zella Samuels. I did find a Zella Matthews Samuels who was listed as an MSU Grandbear. This Zella Samuels graduated from MSU in 1934. I also found a notation that in December, 2006, Jerry Garrett purchased poinsettias in memory or honor of Zella Samuels. Look on page 4. This was from the Affton Christian Church newsletter. Affton is up by St. Louis. Maybe Zella Samuels died in St. Louis?

The CIP description for the proposed tricycle park is as follows (from page 41 of the CIP plan downloadable here:
Tricycle Park at George Moore Park. Project Number 08-0002. Department: Parks. Project Type: New Park. Estimated Remaining Cost and Yearly Spending Plan: $350,000. Project Description: Construct customized sculptural feature tricycle park, typical site amenities and parking. Proposed Funding Sources: Parks 1/4 cents Capital Improvements Sales Tax: $350,000. Comments: Project expenditures are estimated at $150,000 through 2007.

The SN-L's Wes Johnson reported the following in the January 28, 2008 edition of the SN-L, Tricycle Park On City Council Agenda:

Parks Director Jodie Adams said the park board discussed the project at least twice before including it in the CIP.
She envisions the park as a place where young children can ride tricycles safely and learn about traffic signals at the same time.

Near Sunset and King streets, it would be the first tricycle park in Springfield.
"We found a couple of similar ones in California and Texas," Adams said. "It's a playground and a teaching tool where children can exercise their motor skills and learn about stop signs and yield signs."

The park would be part of an 18-acre tract that Zella Samuels donated to the city before she died. She stipulated the land — appraised at $625,000 — had to be used as a park for very young children, Adams said.

"That area will have a lot of focus on families," Adams said. "The park will connect with the nearby greenway trail, so while the parents walk, their child can ride on the trail, too. It's paved."

Tricycle parks are an up-and-coming trend, much like dog parks were several years ago, she said.

With council approval, Adams said construction of the tricycle park could begin in 2009. Parking areas would be added in the future, bringing the total project cost to about $350,000.

Zella Adams died and left the city 18 acres of land near Sunset and Kings. I know on the south side of Sunset between Campbell and National there are duplexes and on the North side of Sunset in the same block there is what I would call a linear park and a biking/hiking trail.

At the corner of National and Sunset there is Robert E. McDaniel Park.

From the Parks Department website: McDaniel Park 2405 S. National 16.0 acres kiosk, swings, and greenway trail, 3 mile walking and fitness trail (from Sunset and National to Kansas Expressway).

To recap: We know a Zella Samuels graduated from MSU in 1934. We know someone who has a connection to a Disciples of Christ Church in Affton, MO bought poinsettias in memory/honor of a Zella Samuels in December, 2006. This lady gave an 18 acre tract of land to the city to be used as a park for young children. The land is valued at $650,000. The park board wants to spend $350,000 to develop the land into the park. We don't know if the lady's gift of land had a timeframe in which the park had to be built--if a park isn't built that benefits young children, the land goes to someone else? What happens if a person leaves land to the city for a specific purpose and the city doesn't use the land for that purpose or plans not to use the land for that purpose, what happens to the land?

I am interested in knowing more about Zella Samuels. Who was she; where did she live; was she married; where did she work; did she have any family; what are her vital statistics? If any bus riders have some information, leave me a comment.

See the map below? See that big empty field near Sunset and Kings? That must be the place. You will have to manipulate the image by scrolling in for a closer view. 2405 S. National is the address of McDaniel Park, I used that as a reference point. I will go out there tomorrow and get some photos. I know a guy who lives in the neighborhood, I may go talk to him tomorrow.

View Larger Map


Jason said...

Do you think there was no Zella Samuels?

My thing is that if the woman donated for the stated purpose then a park like this would be a benefit to the city as a whole. Many young parents need free things like a tricycle park where they can take their children.

Busplunge said...

We know there was a Zella Samuels. I want to know more about her, This is such a fascinating tale. Did she have family? Was she married? Where did she work? She graduated from the Normal School in 1934, maybe she was a school teacher? Most women at that time who graduated from the normal school were teachers. Maybe she was an unmarried school marm who saved all her life for a prince charming and when none arrived, gave away her fortune to benefit young children? How did she end up with that land? Was it her family's farm land? The park just around the corner is the Robert E. McDaniel park, was she related to this guy? Was this land a family farm? I used to live at National and Sunshine. National deadended at Seminole. The house of the SE corner, I think a family named McDaniel owned it and all the land. The houses SW of that intersection are relatively new. Maybe she was married and she and her husband could have no children. Maybe she and her husband owned a lumberyard. Aren't you interested in knowing more about the life of this woman? She gave land worth $650,000 to the city before she died. Why didn't she leave it to her family, if she had any? There are so many questions that are in this tale.

Anonymous said...

When I first saw this I thought of the skatepark, I wonder if the city will staff it with real tricyclers so it will be a park fir tricyclers run by tricyclers...

Anonymous said...

"Gee, Frank, somethin' sure sounds fishy about that tricycle park!"

"I know what you mean, Joe ... I think there's trouble afoot. Should I call in Dad?," Frank replied earnestly.

Frank and Joe's Dad, Fenton Hardy, was a well-known private eye who had often helped the boys in their escapades.

"No, I think this is a job for Chet Morton! What say we go poke around the old Samuels place and see what we can find!"

Go get 'em Bus Plunge ... you are not only Missouri's #7 most important blogger ... you are the most important Missourian around these days!

Anonymous said...

That area is already actively used by Springfield's only lacrosse team.

Nick said...

I am related to Zella Samuels, she was my great grandmother, and I currently live in St. Louis. She was a wonderful woman and a school teacher. She did have a plan for that track of land and she did envision a park for children to be put there. She showed my dad a detailed plan of the park but sadly we have not been able to locate that document. If you would like to know more my email is I would be more than happy to get in touch especially with the historical society down there and others who need to know more about her. Thanks. This is amazing! I can't believe i found this blog.