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Group fighting changes to Bennett Park in Liberty receives resolution

Posted at 4:46 PM, May 14, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-14 18:34:48-04

LIBERTY, Mo. — Bennett Park, also known as Liberty’s backyard, holds a lot of memories for Frank Dixon.

“I've actually probably walked the park, probably as much as anybody else because I have a little Jack Russell and we walk through the park three times a day, we also pick up trash,” Dixon said.

The 45 acres of land is home to a baseball field, playgrounds, and tennis courts, many of which are used by the school district.

The district was looking at the park to possibly expand to have even more courts for its tennis teams.

“By putting them here we think undermines the overall good of the community and all the young kids that use this field for kickball, softball, baseball, kite flying and everything else,” Dixon said.

With a Facebook group started called #SaveBennett, residents shared their concern about the possible change.

“Unless you play tennis, this park would not be your park going forward,” Dixon said.

“I'm just disappointed in the lack of communication around the plan,” Liberty resident, Leisha Barry said. “There's a lot of tentacles, a lot of folks that should've been looped in communication on this.”

After it was up for discussion, the City of Liberty and the Liberty School District released a joint statement Monday afternoon:

“After careful consideration, the City of Liberty and the Liberty Public School District have decided to forego further exploration of developing plans and agreements for potential tennis courts expansion at Bennett Park. The School District will be moving forward with construction of tennis courts at Liberty North High School and will continue to utilize the existing tennis facility at Bennett Park as the Liberty High School home courts.

The Liberty Public School District and the City of Liberty believe in the vision and synergies of partnering to better serve citizens of the District and the City alike. The longstanding partnership between Liberty Parks and Recreation and Liberty Public Schools is integral to providing children and families a variety of programming opportunities. We will continue to explore future partnering opportunities and Cooperative Use Agreements that provide citizens quality, cost effective and efficient programs. It is our collective desire to continue making Liberty one of the premier communities in Missouri and our nation in which to live.”

The city spokesperson did tell 41 Action News that the city and the school district could not reach an agreement that was mutually beneficial, saying neither side was at fault, it just simply did not work out.