The Youth Activities Team, the sixth team born of the Fort Scott Community Visioning project, is well on its way toward funding its plan to enhance Ellis Park.
According to information provided by YAT, a couple of recent Pennies in the Park fundraisers have been successful at raising funds for the expansion of Ellis Park. An April 12 garage sale conducted by the Youth Activities Team raised about $1,300. In addition, on Tuesday, DoughBoyz Penny Park Night raised a total of $422.47. YAT member Paul Martin recently announced the latest total of pennies collected for the Pennies in the Park Project, saying at this time, the Youth Activities Team has collected $6,324.01.
YAT has scheduled several upcoming Pennies in the Park fundraising events. From 4 p.m. to 9 p.m., on Monday, April 21, the team will conduct Taco Tico Penny Night. At 3 p.m. on May 4, "Beauty and the Beast" by the Paul Mesner Puppets will be performed at the Liberty Theatre, 113 S. Main. Area schools will participate in Coin Wars from May 12 to 16. A Radio-A-Thon will be conducted on May 22-23 at KMDO/KMDO radio. Also, the YAT team will conduct a Penny King and Queen Pageant on Sunday, June 1.
Planned improvements to the park include a miniature golf course, sand volleyball courts, batting cages, a jogging and walking trail, picnic shelters, outside basketball courts, and a playground area.
Local philanthropists Danny and Willa Ellis donated the park on East 12th Street, just southwest of Fort Scott Middle School, to the City of Fort Scott and Bourbon County in the early 1980s. Currently, the park features two baseball/softball diamonds and a soccer field.
After conducting a random survey of middle school, high school and college age youth to find out what improvements they would like to see in the community, the Youth Activities Team determined that improvements to Ellis Park would be a good place to start, and they hired local architect Rick Zingre to draw up a plan for their proposal. They also met with and obtained support for the project from community leaders and organizations before taking their proposal to the Fort Scott City Commission for its blessing.
YAT co-convenor Diana Mitchell said that the project is currently estimated at $4 million, but group members don't expect it to actually cost that much.
The improvements to Ellis Park will be financed through fundraising, grants and financial and in-kind support from individuals and businesses. The team anticipates that the work may be completed in phases, rather than all at one time, but they are determined to see it completed, Martin said.