How to spend $250K on an Omaha park: Neighbors share ideas for ARPA funds

Residents say they hope the money for Kountze Park in north Omaha goes toward issues they believe need fixing.
People say they’ve been vocal for years about their discontent with the park’s disrepair.
Published: Aug. 2, 2022 at 5:32 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Newly allocated money — $250,000 in ARPA funds — is being put to use on north Omaha’s Kountze Park.

People say they’ve been vocal for years about their discontent with the park’s disrepair, but the city Parks Department says it will collaborate with local homeowners for their input.

Residents who live right across from the park have a common theme when they tell 6 News what they want done with this money: Get the pavilion back up and running.

Janice Bush has lived across the park for 30 years.

“I’d like to see the building fixed up so maybe we can use it as a community center,” she said.

Ann Griffin, who has lived nearby for 15 years said: “I need that pavilion fixed so it can be used...My mother and my mother-in-law who lives one block over used to be over there all the time. And we’d have 50 to 75 people over there. That thing has been closed at least for the last 20 to 25 years.”

That pavilion is locked now, but neighbors hope the funding can help open it up again — and provide kids with something to do.

“I think it would make a whole lotta kids be staying outta trouble,” Griffin said.

Right now, not even the playground attracts some kids nearby. Talisa Jenkins has three sons and children often come to her house to meet up and play.

“A lot of our kids don’t really go over there because of the sand, and there’s nothing to do over there because the slides are broke,” Jenkins said.

People in the area say the playground sand attracts cat feces and bugs. Some prefer an upgraded rubber or synthetic foundation instead.

Also on their list of concerns, is the maintenance of the splash pad. Right now, the water flows 24/7 and the sensor to preserve water is broken.

“You’ve got people in Nebraska and the west part of the state burning up, and we’re here wasting water,” said Bush.

Ultimately, the people of North Omaha hope this money goes towards issues they believe need fixing.

‘It would be awesome to see the park used for what the park is supposed to be used for: picnics, relaxation, fun,” said Bush.

The funding still needs to go before the City Council; and while a timeline for input and renovations has yet to be released, 6 News will have updates as they become available.

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