Community pushes Omaha City Council for money for Ford birthsite restoration

Neighbors are pushing the Omaha City Council to formally assess the Gerald Ford birthsite, which is in need of some major repairs and upkeep.
Published: Mar. 6, 2023 at 6:51 PM CST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - The Gerald R. Ford Birthsite and Gardens hasn’t gone through its spring cleanup yet, but one can tell there’s much more to do here than simply raking leaves.

The first thing to catch eyes -- the park is in dire need of masonry work. There are cracks, holes, and parts of the park simply falling down.

Amelia Rosser has a business and lives in the Hanscom Park neighborhood. She says she used to take her son for walks in the park when he was very young.

“We would frequently go down there and go for walks around, and just experience the garden and the space that we have by our house that wasn’t a playground,” Rosser said. “That was beautiful in that he could kind of meander around but still be kind of fenced in, and it was just right around the corner from my house.”

There are some things around the birthsite that are beginning to look kind of ugly. Many things around the park are not “presidential,” or up to date. The list of Presidents ends with Obama; according to the park, Dave Heineman is still Nebraska’s governor.

“There’s some other masonry and concrete parts that look like they need some attention, and as well as the Betty Ford Rose Garden,” Rosser said.

The resolution set to come before the Omaha City Council reads the more than $41,000 will be used to provide professional landscape and architectural services to develop the Ford birthsite condition assessment. City officials tell 6 News the money will come from city funds and be used to fix up the Betty Ford Rose Garden. They go on to say the city is assessing the condition of the park to determine what type of repairs will be needed in the near future.

“It read to me more like, ‘this is the estimate of the repair we’re going to have to do,’ versus ‘we’re going to request $40,000 to see what repairs need to be done,’” Rosser said. “It seems like maybe it’s a little bit of both.”

No matter how it happens, Rosser believes this park is an important part of Omaha and should be repaired and kept in good condition.

“Kind of maintain the investments that we’ve already put in, versus letting them go to waste,” Rosser said. “It costs money to maintain things.”

There will be a public hearing on money designated to be spent on the Ford birthsite. A motion from the City Council is necessary in order for the council to vote on the resolution.