The National Trust for Historic Preservation has put Missouri’s parks system on its list of the eleven most endangered historic places in the United States. The Trust says Missouri’s parks are “in crisis.” It finds the elimination of 120 jobs in the system last fall and a 200-million dollar backlog in deferred maintenance make Missouri’s parks a “prime example” of the national threat to historic sites. The Trust says the sites on its list are “at risk for destruction or irreparable damage.” The Trust says 700 of the parks systems’ structures are historic and are at great risk.
President Susan Flader of the Missouri Parks Association says the legislature has failed to provide funding to help solve the problems. But she says politics has gotten into the way of approval of a bond issue. A Senate filibuster killed the bill last year after it had passed the House. This year, she says, Speaker Ron Richard “sat on” the bill and never allowed it to have a committee hearing.
At least one public safety issue is in play—a slumping dam at Trail of Tears State Park that has forced park officials to lower the lake level, closing it to swimmers.. The National Trust also says the KATY Trail needs about 48-million dollars in rehabilitation.
The organization says there is a secondary and possibly greater threat that won’t be felt in a year or two as the parks fall into greater disrepair and neglect.