On Friday, the City of Monett is going to rededicate the North Park ballpark to its citizens at 6 p.m. in conjunction with the opening ceremonies of the Monett Youth Baseball and Softball League.
The idea for a new city park arose in August of 1967. The city with the aid of a $9,000 grant from the Missouri Resources Conservation and Development Department purchased 35 acres from A.R. Schaller for $18,000.
The minutes of the August 28, 1967, Monett Chamber of Commerce meeting stated in part that "The Board feels this price is reasonable, the tract well suited for park purposes, and strongly recommends its purchase and development for park purposes."
A joint civic committee for park development was formed to assist with fundraising and planning for the new park.
The initial committee had representatives from the Monett Quarterback Club, Monett Chamber of Commerce, Monett R-1 School District, Monett Kiwanis Club, Sportmen's League, American Legion and Monett Lions Club.
Many individuals and local organizations volunteered time and resources to ensure that this new park would meet Monett's growing recreational needs.
The Kiwanis Club pledged $1,000 in November of 1967, the Monett School District donated the lights and poles previously used at the old football field and the Jaycees pledged all the proceeds from an upcoming radio auction they were having.
As construction of the fields began in 1969, the park received more financial assistance: $1,250 from the Jaycees and $1,000 each from the Lions, American Legion and Kiwanis.
The Veterans of Foreign War Auxillary, Boy Scouts, Saddle Club, Jaycee Wives, Gillioz Bank, Marvin Bennett, First National Bank, Optimist Club, Business and Professional Women and SPE Barber Shop Quartet Singing Association also donated money to help construct fields and playgrounds at North Park.
The Monett National Guard constructed four backstops at no charge to the city. The University of Missouri Southwest Research Center at Mt. Vernon provided soil testing and seeding advice for the types of grass and soil aggerate needed to maintain a healthy playing surface.
In August 1971, Ray Shanks, president of the Monett Recreational Development Committee (MRDC), wrote an open letter to The Monett Times:
"As we near the close of what we feel has been a very successful Little League season on our new baseball complex located in the new North City Park, we have taken time to reflect on what made it possible and without a doubt, successful.
"This open letter is directed to each of you who participated in any way so that our project this year could be completed. Our board of directors decided in this manner we could thank each participant on behalf of the MRDC. Monett Little Leaguers, members and families, and the community without the possibility of inadvertently missing someone."
The community interest in the fields and the youth that participate in sporting events at North Park continues to remain strong to this day.
It took a community effort to make the park a reality. The need for involvement to improve the facilities at North Park is still ongoing today.
I encourage each and every one to attend the rededication of Monett's North Park and to take a moment to reflect on what makes this community special.
Editor's note: You can see a copy of the original design for North Park on The Monett Times sports page at www.monett-times.com.