by Mary Rupert
For Cherri West, today’s playground building event at Bill Clem Park at 10th and Kansas Avenue was important.
“It means a lot to me to be able to carry on Pammy’s memory and give the children a new, fresh place to play,” said West, the mother of Pamela Butler, a 10-year-old who was abducted from the Armourdale area and killed almost 20 years ago.
Pamela Butler was abducted in 1999 while roller-skating near her home in the Armourdale area of Kansas City, Kansas. She later was found murdered in the Grain Valley, Missouri, area.
In 2000, a portion of Bill Clem Park, Pammy’s Playground, was dedicated to a children’s playground in memory of Pamela Butler.
West was at the playground building event today, working with cement, the tether ball area and with mulch. In fact, the playground upgrade was her idea.
“Almost 20 years, it kind of got a little old and deteriorated, so I wanted to see if we could freshen it up, since it will be 20 years in October for her, and I thought this would be a great anniversary,” West said.
West is an employee of CarMax, whose foundation is sponsoring upgrades of playgrounds all over the country. She requested the CarMax Foundation to get involved with the playground upgrade here. The park upgrade is receiving a grant from the CarMax Foundation.
Besides about 100 volunteers from CarMax, there also were volunteers at the rebuild from the police and fire departments, as well as from parks department in Kansas City, Kansas.
About 150 volunteers today built state-of-the-art new playground structures at the park, according to Chasity Miller, community engagement manager of CarMax.
The new structures being built at the park included swings, slides, a climbing frame, tether ball, soccer goals, a shade structure, sidewalk decorations and flower boxes. The improvements are expected to be safer than former structures at the park.
Pammy’s Playground improvements were based on designs by the children who attend the nearby John Fiske Elementary School, according to Miller.
Miller said this playground project is part of a national CarMax Foundation $4.4 million national program partnering with KaBOOM! to improve children’s health. This program will build 68 playgrounds across the country.
A ballpark figure for the cost of today’s park improvements is about $100,000, according to Miller.
A small community contribution of about $8,500 with donations of time, equipment and materials were from the Unified Government, said Angel Obert, recreational division manager for the UG parks and recreation.
Obert said the playground improvement project was initiated last year and took off in April when CarMax approved the grant.
A Unified Government parks official stated that the UG was honored to be a partner with KaBOOM! and the CarMax Foundation to restore this playground, and it would provide a safe environment, strengthening the community, while giving children and families an opportunity for recreation.
There were many community partners with this playground renovation, including the Armourdale Renewal Association and several businesses.
The Clem Park playground project is one of three that has been done in the area by CarMax Foundation and KaBOOM!, Miller said. Another of their playground projects was in October 2013 at the Providence-Ball Family Center YMCA at 8601 Parallel Parkway in Kansas City, Kansas.