While the City of Neosho's ongoing parks study is intended to meet the parks needs of the community, the city is finding it difficult to learn what Neosho residents consider those needs to be.

While the City of Neosho's ongoing parks study is intended to meet the parks needs of the community, the city is finding it difficult to learn what Neosho residents consider those needs to be.

The City of Neosho, in conjunction with the Kansas City-based Land3 Studio, who is performing the assessment, held their second public input meeting Wednesday evening at the Lampo Building.

The turnout was light, with about 10 people in attendance, but there was heavy discussion regarding the future of the city's parks, primarily those used for athletics.

Angie Leach, president of the Neosho Little League board, spoke of the need for upgraded ballfields, and more of them.

Leach said the Little League-sponsored, parent-run program drew more than 600 participants this summer, its first season back in Neosho in several years. However, as the participation numbers are expected to increase, so do the organizers' concerns about scheduling fields where those teams can play.
"There's just not enough fields," Leach said.

She said the addition of upgraded fields would also help to keep Neosho kids playing in Neosho, as several are leaving town to play on traveling teams.

Bob Bushyhead, president of Land3 Studio, said it is not uncommon for cities without upgraded facilities to see their athletes leaving town to play ball in other areas.

"Kids play at a lot of different places and in fact you find yourself competing against your own kids in a lot of cases," Bushyhead said. "If they're part of a club team, or traveling team, they tend to migrate out of your system if your facilities don't compare."

Bushyhead said the average standard for baseball and softball fields is one field for every 1,550 people in a community, while football and soccer fields average one field for every 3,275 people.

With Neosho's population of 11,800, Bushyhead said the city is currently underserved with its number of fields.

But are new ballfields what Neosho residents want?

Troy Royer, Neosho city manager, said he would like to find out.

"To me community input is vital," Royer said. "I'm a newcomer, I've been here a year. People that have lived here their whole lives, what would you like to see? How would you like to see it grow? What would you like to see done?"

Royer said the city is offering questionnaires, where citizens who could not attend the public meetings can voice their opinions on which direction they would like to see the city parks go. Those forms are available at the Neosho City Hall.

Bushyhead said community input is not a requirement for his study, though it is desired.

"We can wrap this process up in a very meaningful way without public input, quite frankly, because we do have standards and we have an understanding of your peer communities, what you should expect," Bushyhead said. "At the same time, these types of projects move forward based on community will and desire and as much input as we can get relative to those comments and ideas we get from the community, the better off we are."

Land3 Studio was hired by the city to come up with a needs assessment study on what Neosho is lacking, or what improvements could be made, to the city's parks. The study is based both on peer communities and the wishes of Neosho residents.

Bushyhead said the company is currently completing the physical assessment.
Eventually, they will present a report to the city with the company's recommendations, which will serve as the start of a comprehensive parks development plan.

With the plan in hand, the city will then be able to pursue outside funding to assist with parks improvements.
The City of Neosho, in conjunction with Land3 Studio, will hold a third public meeting at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 13 at the Lampo Building, 500 E. Spring Street.

The Little League board will also hold a public meeting, where they hope to solicit community feedback, at 7 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 6 at the Neosho Municipal Golf Course Building.