Rosedale Arch Site Improvements: Kansas City, Kansas
City Parks Forum Case Study
Parks are often the sites for a community to express its history, through the placement of statuary, sculptures, or other tribute pieces. Around the world, one of the most popular types of war memorials is the commemorative arch. While one likely thinks first of the most famous of these structures, the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, they can be found in the most unlikely of places, such as Kansas City, Kansas.
The Rosedale Arch, dedicated in September 1924, was designed as a "scaled down" version of that famous Parisian memorial. It was created as part of a memorial park to honor the "Rainbow Division," the 42nd U.S. Infantry Division, composed of National Guard units from 26 states and the first to arrive in France in World War I. This dedication occurred two years after Rosedale, a separate city, consolidated with Kansas City, Kansas. The arch sits atop Mount Marty, and it is lighted up at night, making it highly visible to the surrounding community.
However, this visibility does not translate into accessibility. While it was easily identified from afar, most people didn't know that the arch was located in Mount Marty Park. "There are no signs that say ‘Rosedale Memorial Arch'," says Wendy Wilson, director of the Rosedale Development Association. In addition, the site didn't have adequate lighting, was accessible through only one road, and picnic facilities and walking paths were lacking. Finally, there was a perception that the site was neglected and unsafe. All these concerns pointed to the RDA's need for a new site plan.
RDA approached Mayor Carol Marinovich to see what could be done to renew public use and interest in the arch and its surrounding park. Through her participation with the City Parks Forum, Mayor Marinovich was able to secure a CPF grant for the RDA to pursue the renewal of the Rosedale Arch area.
In addition to a master plan for improvements being completed, brush and plant material around the retaining wall and a rocky outcropping was removed, and several items were installed, including six permanent benches, three concrete pads for picnic tables, cultural resource style directional markers, seven bollard lights, a second flagpole for the state flag, a four-minute informational recording speaker box, and a bike rack. Students from the adjacent Rosedale Middle School did the brush cleanup work as part of a community service project.
The historic nature of the structure, which adds to its community value, also made the revitalization process more complicated, due to the need for all plans to be approved by the local landmarks commission and the state historical society. But the level of involvement and interest in the arch has sparked public interest in the site again, with features and editorials in the Kansas City Kansan and Kansas City Star. As the 80th anniversary of the Rosedale Arch's dedication approaches, the community is hopeful that this site will be recognizable at all distances and perhaps it will be just as celebrated as its "parent" in Paris.
Rosedale Development Association, Inc.
1403 Southwest Blvd.
Kansas City, Kansas 66103