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Forgotten KC: Kessler Park Reservoir

The city wants input on the reservoir's future
Posted: 2:09 PM, Nov 22, 2017
Updated: 2017-11-22 20:09:25Z

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — On the well-manicured Cliff Drive Disc Golf Course in Northeast Kansas City, an iron fence covered in weeds and vines circles a forgotten perimeter. 

A peep between the bars reveals an abandoned reservoir. Trees have dug their roots in the splits of the concrete—which has become a canvas for graffiti artists. Litter and broken glass are dispersed along reservoir’s floor. 


In the early 1900s, Kansas City’s Fire and Water Commission proposed building a reservoir to provide water to the growing number of industrial industries in the area. 

Construction began in 1919 and the Northeast Reservoir was completed in 1920.

“Overall it was supposed to hold about 16 million gallons (of water),” said Devin Wetzel, Superintendent of Park and Natural Resources with Kansas City Parks and Recreation.

Soon after it was in use, cracks developed under the enormous amount of water pressure. Other water sources and treatment centers were developed and the reservoir was drained and left empty. 


After decades of being vacant, there has been discussion on that should happen to the area. 

“We’ve been looking back at some of the old board records for it,” said Wetzel. “Back to the 60s, there was discussion the board made to the parks board of what kind of use could be utilized for the area such as an amphitheater, but the funding wasn't there and just to cost of renovating something like this has never been undertaken.”

Although it’s not permitted due to safety concerns, some have gone in and explored the ruins of the reservoir. A visitor told 41 Action News, “I think this is a hidden gem of Kansas City and it’s a treasure that people shouldn't take for granted.” 

Now the Kansas City Park and Recreation Department wants the city’s input and has issued a request for proposals. 

“We are requesting information from anybody that would have any ideas for recreation. There could be extreme sports, amphitheater. So we’re going to be taking request until February 1st and find out what ideas the public has of who might want to come to this area and utilize it,” said Wenzel. 

Click here to see the Kessler Park Reservoir Proposal.