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Public Lands Department keeps busy
City parks, facilities see heavy traffic
public lands vets park
Improvements to Veterans Memorial Park were among the many activities of the Great Bend Public Lands Department that were discussed in a report to the City Council meeting Monday night. - photo by DALE HOGG Great Bend Tribune

If it involves Great Bend city property, it likely involves the Public Lands Department. That was the gist of remarks made by Public Lands Director Scott Keeler when he addressed the City Council Monday night.

Keeler gave his report to the council at the request of City Administrator Kendal Francis. Over a series of three meetings starting in November, Francis has asked department heads to update council members on their departmental activities.

On Nov. 18, the Police and Fire departments had their turns. This week featured Keeler and Francis, who is the acting public works director following the resignation of Public Works Director Simon Wiley in October.

Keeler noted the department is responsible for:

• Great Bend Municipal Airport

• Expo grounds

• Cemeteries

• Wetlands Water Park

• Brit Spaugh Zoo

• Sports Complex

• All parks

• Any other public lands 

Brit Spaugh Zoo

• Five full-time, four part-time staff

• One supervisor/curator

• One zookeeper II/vet assistant

• Two zookeeper Is

• One part-time zookeeper

• One part-time maintenance

• Two part-time consumer service representatives

Statistics to date this year:

• 33,936 patrons visited 

• 47 field trips for 1260 kids

• 180 animals of 75 different species

• 56 animals added to the collection in 2019


 Great Bend Cemetery

•  Four full-time staff

• One supervisor

• One operator II

• Two operator Is

Statistics to date:

• 116 funerals


• Operations and maintenance (86 acres)

• Opening and closing of graves

• Sales of lots, deeds, and records

• Maintain the equipment, and facilities

Wetlands Water Park

• 41 Seasonal staff

• One aquatics director

The city works with the Megan Hammeke at the Great Bend Recreation Commission to fill this opening. 

• Four head guards

• 29 life guards

• One head concessionaire

• Seven concession staff

Statistics to date:

• 24,075 patrons visited

• 321 patrons daily average

• 27 private parties

• Five swim lesson courses

• Four certified aquatic facility operators

Keeler said they are planning on refurbishing the water slides at the park, hopefully to be done prior to the 2020 swim season.

Great Bend Municipal Airport

• Two full-time staff

• One airport manager

• One operator II


• Daily operations and inspections

• Maintain grounds (815 acres)

• Insure Federal Aviation Administration regulations are followed

• Safety

Runway Project

• There will be a preliminary walk-through inspection in mid December. The striping will be done in the spring when the weather warms, and the final walk-through will be at that time.

This is for the restoration of the northern 2,351 feet of the main east-west runway. Great Bend received a grant through the Kansas Department of Transportation Aviation Division covering 90 percent of the $444,891 total, with the city covering about $45,000.

This followed the work on the southern 5,500 feet of the runway that fell under a Federal Aviation Administration project. The city received a $6,734,361 grant that covered 90 percent of the work, with the city paying $782,000.

Park Department

• 13 Full-time/ 1 part-time staff

• One supervisor

• One secretary

• Three operator IIs

• Two operator Is

• One mechanic

• Three service person IIs

• Two service person I

• One part-time staff member


• Operations, maintenance, and support of all department areas/city facilities.

• 2,015-plus acres

• An additional 1,000 acres farm land at the airport that the city leases out

• 13 parks

• 16 baseball/ softball fields

• 34 irrigation systems

• 1.73 million square feet of irrigated turf


• 12 tournaments/ 243 teams/ 451 games

• 832 total games on all fields

Supported to date

• 100 functions at the Event Center

• 45 events at the Expo Grounds

• 27 civic/ city events

• New playground equipment at Vets

• Resurfacing tennis courts

• The new bison exhibit at the zoo, a project that is now underway 

• Airport runway project

Goals for 2020

• Development/improvements to department’s Master Plan

• Introduction of bison at the zoo

• Completion runway project

• New Ball field lighting at Veterans Memorial Park

Keeler said this is a high-priority project that they are “aggressively” pursuing now. They hope to have this done for 2020 baseball season.

• Refurbish slides at the Water Park

• Improvements to all facilities