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Kiwanis aim to help renew the 281 Bypass Park
Vote on national poll for grant money
Photos of the 281 Bypass Park show buckled sidewalks, broken fences, a single picnic table and grill at a shelter and some playground equipment. There are swings, a slide, a small toddler slide, and a concrete pad with a basketball goal, but the Great Bend Kiwanis Club and others would like to see more amenities, including off-street parking.

The city park on the 281 Bypass is one of Great Bend’s least-improved sites, but it is used by many families on the east side of town. With that in mind, the Great Bend Kiwanis Club is spearheading an effort to improve the area, according to club member Suresh Maharjan.

They aren’t alone. City officials and a representative from the Great Bend Public Library have also shown interest, Maharjan said. For the rest of September, everyone in the community can help by “voting” for this project to receive a grant from Kiwanis International and Landscape Structures.

The Legacy of Play Contest will award up to $25,000 in playground equipment to one community in the United States.

Voting has begun and will run until 11 a.m. local time on Sept. 30. The 10 entries with the most votes at that point will move to the finals. The winner will be announced on Oct. 13.

The public can vote for an entry once a day. 

How to vote

Check out the Legacy of Play Contest website at and click on “entries.” (Or search for “Legacy of Play Contest” to find the site.) Find the Great Bend, Kansas, project that has the header “Renovate old park in ...” There is a photo of a fence. Click on the “heart” at the bottom of the entry; you will be prompted to provide an email address and a four-digit code will be sent to that address. Enter the code to vote.

Update, Sept. 23: 

A new link was provided for voters:

Go to this link

 Click on Heart.

you will be prompted to provide an email address and a four-digit code will be sent to that address. Enter the code to vote.


Where it is

The triangular-shaped park is on the west side of 281 Bypass. It is bordered by Frey Street on the west, the bypass on the east and Park Street on the south.

“We have been planning to renovate this park for over a year,” Maharjan said.

City Administrator Kendal Francis said he had a conversation with club members more than a year ago but it was very general. Club member Barb Esfeld said they also reached out to the Great Bend Public Library, where a manager expressed interest in adding a “reading walking path” at the park.

Outgoing club president Dan Soeken reported that the club has saved about $30,000 toward the project and is searching for other grants. Members toured it recently and took photos for the contest website.

“Everybody that walked in there the other day tripped over the sidewalk,” he said.

“It’s not a serene area by any means,” Soeken said. “If you sit out there for 10 minutes, you’ll hear 100 cars going by. But there are a lot of kids in that area and so people do use that park.”

This will never be the city’s premiere park, he said. “But it needs to be upgraded. It’s not ADA approved, there’s no bathroom and there’s no water fountain.” There is no off-street parking.