Blueprint Community, Parsons, creates a recreational haven

A message from the Blueprint Communities team of Parsons: 

Yes, it’s been an unbelievably crazy year, and yes, you’d think a city probably couldn’t make much progress during this time, but Parsons defied all odds. And most of this progress is due to the assistance provided to us as a Blueprint Community.  

The program kicked off with community events. Citizens of Parsons were invited to the program kick-off, which was held in Mill Race Park, as well as a Chat and Chew event and a Cake Walk. At these events, our partners gave our local Blueprint team valuable input and decided what they wanted Parsons to become in the next few years. We took a serious look at that information and our community assets to determine how we could build on them.

Recreation partners came together to gain input and determine what a plan of action could be. This led to a serious discussion of the outstanding hiking and biking trails and the pristine waters of our five rivers that are being underused for recreation. The team also held a business forum which led to much discussion of priorities and led to the new Facebook group: We Are Parsons.

The city obtained a dilapidated building on the main street in Parsons and demolished it for much-needed green space downtown. We were awarded a competitive grant from the Mills Group for the design of the area, and a pocket park is ready to be built. A pergola will be the feature of the pocket park also with a mural on the PRO Plaza Building.  This area will provide an outstanding meeting and greeting place.   

PRO On Trac, which has worked in conjunction with the Blueprint Community Team, is currently renovating the first floor of a building on the Historic Register to be used for two retail businesses—all are hopeful that one of them will be a coffee shop that will open out onto the pocket park area. Another dilapidated building has been demolished, and there is a potential for multi-family housing to be constructed there.  

Short-term plans include implementing a “Paint a Bench” project to accentuate the river banks in downtown Parsons, a loan program for businesses to fix the façade of their buildings, continuing plans with the Parsons Economic Development Authority to have our first industry located in our industrial park in early 2021, and working together to define and better utilize our recreation industry.

While we are all busy fixing up the town, being a Blueprint Community has made us take a serious approach to these outstanding natural resources in our area. This mindset of prioritizing our rivers as an asset needed to take place.  The City of Parsons mayor, Dorothy Judy, sums up the attitude towards our rivers beautifully.  “After the flood of 1985, we became afraid of our rivers and the damage they did. After studying our assets, we now know we need to celebrate our rivers and the opportunities they bring our community for enhanced water sports, such as whitewater rafting, kayaking, boating, fishing, swimming and floating.” City Administrator Jason Myers further expounded upon our natural resources, “Our hiking and biking trails provide a scenic visit through our Mon Forest Town and community.”  

The Parsons Blueprint Team is assisting in moving forward to meet the needs of our citizens and visitors alike. As Corridor H nears completion, Parsons is defining itself as a safe, family-friendly recreational haven in Almost Heaven.

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