At its March 22 meeting, Springfield City Council approved the Springfield-Greene County Park Board’s proposal to add nearly 16 acres to historic Sequiota Park in southeast Springfield.
At a February meeting with the council, Parks Director Bob Belote presented the proposal to transfer three City of Springfield-owned properties to the Park Board, expanding the 12.69-acre park by more than 127%.
The three properties, two to the north of the park, one to the south, were acquired by the City in the 1970s because they are in the Galloway Creek flood plain. All three properties are almost entirely wooded, serving for stormwater management as well as buffer for the Galloway Creek Greenway, which spans the properties.
While these properties may already look like part of the park, converting them to park land would allow for increased recreation opportunities like outdoor exploration and wildlife education, while maintaining stormwater usage and the Greenway corridor.
Parks Director Bob Belote said even with a plan for minimal development of these properties, like picnic tables, park benches, drinking fountains, a possible bike repair station, etc., the added acreage will alleviate pressure at Sequiota, one of the busiest parks in Springfield.
“Without question, the biggest challenge is the sheer popularity,” Belote said about Sequiota Park. “Everyone just wants to be there. Same situation with the (Galloway Creek) Greenway trail.”
The properties in the plan include:
- 6.42 acres northeast of East Lacuna Street and South Lone Pine Avenue.
- 3.70 acres southeast of East Lacuna Street and South Lone Pine Avenue, north of the park’s current boundary.
- 6.06 acres northeast of East Barton Street and South Lone Pine Avenue, south of the park’s current boundary, including the southern tip of the park’s lake and spillway.
Belote said the proposal came out of a staff review process associated with a citizen inquiry following the 2019 Our Galloway Plan, which identified recommendations for development along the South Lone Pine Avenue corridor, between Battlefield and Republic roads. The plan was created through citizen and stakeholder input and approved by City Council in October 2019, and it specifically calls for Sequiota Park improvements and expansion.
Belote said the three properties would be included in development of a master plan for Sequiota Park and the Galloway Creek Greenway.
“I would see (the master plan) as a process that’s sort of Part 2 of the Our Galloway Plan,” said Belote. “Respect the historic elements of the park, respect the stormwater, dissipate (park and trail) traffic and move some amenities around to better accommodate the heavy use we often see.”
Belote added that the Sequiota/Galloway Creek Greenway corridor connects to some exciting recreation improvements taking place to the north and north, including the fledgling Lone Pine Bike Park, an upcoming sidewalk and crosswalk connection between Galloway Creek Greenway and the Brentwood neighborhood, and future development of the Chadwick Flyer Trail, connecting the Galloway Creek Greenway, the James River Greenway and the Trail of Honor south of Lake Springfield, into Christian County.
Sequiota Park is one of the Park Board’s 10 Historic Parks, each dating to before World War II. The park and lake were privately developed in the early 1900s, and though it was miles from Springfield, Sequiota was a popular daytrip from town on the Frisco Railway Chadwick Branch passenger train. In 1920, the State of Missouri bought the property and developed it as a trout hatchery, making Sequiota the smallest state park. The hatchery operation moved to Shepherd of the Hills State Hatchery in 1959, and the state donated the property to the City for use as a park. Sequiota Park is recognizable in historic and modern photos by the iconic big rock overlooking Sequiota Cave, navigable only by boat.
Today Sequiota is one of the city’s busiest and most beloved parks. Sequitoa Cave is home to a migrating colony of gray bats, an endangered species. The park serves as a trailhead for the Galloway Creek Greenway, named a National Recreation Trail in 2003. The park’s lake, bridges and stormwater channel were updated in 2011, with funds from the 2006 ¼-cent County-Wide Parks and Stormwater Sales Tax. Sequiota, according to legend, means “many springs.”