Connecting To Nature

Forward SGF champions enhancing outdoor recreation opportunities, sustainable development, and ecotourism to better connect residents, discussed in Chapter 11: Parks, Greenways, and Natural Resources.

A key initiative of Forward SGF is to better connect residents with nature and recreational opportunities. Springfield’s most significant natural areas, community parks, sports complexes, recreational facilities, and community and educational centers that draw residents and regional visitors should continue to be maintained and enhanced. Connections among destination amenities should be prioritized through a comprehensive trail network. Opportunities abound to promote the City’s unified brand through signage, wayfinding, amenities, and landscaping with native plants. Highlighting natural landscape features prevalent in the local area, such as cliffs and boulders native field stone, caves, karst topography, streams and waterways, trees, and wildlife habitat areas, can create interesting and memorable landmarks that serve as navigation guides within the park system. By increasing connections to the natural environment, Springfield residents can lead healthier lifestyles and enjoy enhanced quality of place.

The City has entered a contract with a consulting firm to facilitate and draft an update to the Zoning and Development Code, which will provide the City with the regulatory framework essential to implement many of the recommendations outlined in the Comprehensive Plan.

The City will begin the process of identifying new infrastructure projects that will be funding over the course of the next 5-years. Projects included will have a greater emphasis on quality of place and when possible, a connection to the natural environment either directly or by way of multimodal improvements.

See below projects that are prioritizing connection to nature.

Lake Springfield Public Presentation by CMT – October 12, 2023
Lake Springfield Public Presentation by CMT – May 4, 2023
Lake Springfield Public Kickoff Event by CMT – November 17, 2022

Chapter 7 – Housing & Neighborhoods

  • Goal 1. Support the Creation of Complete Neighborhoods
    • (1.1) Create and Expand Neighborhood Amenities
    • (1.2) Foster Walkable Neighborhoods
    • (1.3) Beautify Neighborhoods

Chapter 8 – Economic Development

  • Goal 3. Promote Reinvestment in Springfield’s Commercial Corridors and Key Gateways
    • (3.1) Prioritize Corridor Improvements

Chapter 9 – Transportation & Mobility

  • Goal 3. Integrate Transportation and Land Use to Support Mobility and Placemaking
    • (3.3) Enhance Community Character and Placemaking

Chapter 10 – Infrastructure & Community Facilities

  • Goal 3. Develop Infrastructure and Community Facilities in a Sustainable Manner
    • (3.1) Apply Sustainable Development Practices
    • (3.2) Identify, Promote and Protect Natural Infrastructure
    • (3.3) Improve Water Quality
  • Goal 6. Foster public ownership and community identity towards Springfield’s infrastructure and community facilities as they continue to support the beautification of the city.
    • (6.2) Beautify through Infrastructure

Chapter 11 – Parks, Greenways, & Natural Resources

  • Goal 1. Establish a Comprehensive Trails Network to Enhance Physical Connections Between Springfield’s Neighborhoods, Natural Areas, and          Key Destinations
  • Goal 2. Equitably Integrate Quality Public Spaces Throughout the City
    • (2.4) Ensure a Connection to Nature in New Development and Redevelopment
  • Goal 3. Promote Sports, Recreation, and Ecotourism through Branding and Facility Upgrades to establish Springfield as a Gateway into the Ozarks, while Boosting the Local Economy
    • (3.1) Create a Unified Brand
    • (3.3) Build on Springfield’s Recreational Experience
  • Goal 4. Ensure Sustainable Growth and Environmental Stewardship by Conserving the City’s Natural Resources, while Fostering a Sense of        Community Responsibility and Pride through Education and Immersive Experiences.
    • (4.1) Increase Environmental Stewardship and Protections.
    • (4.2) Promote Sustainable Development
    • (4.3) Become a Leader in Sustainability in Southwest Missouri
    • (4.4) Leverage Water Resources for Recreation
    • (4.6) Preserve and Enhance the Urban Forest
    • (4.7) Leverage natural features for public spaces

The Lake Springfield area is a key natural asset to the Springfield community and surrounding region. While it currently offers a variety of recreational amenities, there is significant opportunity to enhance the area into a recreational focal point of the region. The decommissioning of the James River Power Station presents a unique opportunity for adaptive reuse of the facility, repurposing part of the larger site for active recreation and making a lasting impact on the James River Basin

Lake Springfield was created in 1957 by the damming of the James River in southeast Springfield to serve the cooling needs of the James River Power Station. The lake and surrounding area was identified as a redevelopment opportunity area during the City’s Forward SGF comprehensive planning process.

The Plan will include adaptive reuse planning for the decommissioned Power Station and a Plan for the Lake Springfield area encompassing approximately 1,000 acres of publicly owned land. An in-depth Hydrological Study will be conducted to identify feasibility of various opportunities for the Lake and James River and will inform the development of the plan. The Plan will be a catalyst for innovative economic and recreational opportunities, new infrastructure, sustainable water quality and green infrastructure, compatible development which increases the tax base, creates jobs, improves the quality of life of the workforce and their families.

In partnership with Ozark Greenways, the Ozark Transportation
Organization is in the process of constructing the Chadwick Flyer
Trail along the inactive BNSF railroad track in accordance with the
2017 OTO Bicycle and Pedestrian Trail Investment Study. This trail
will extend from the James River Greenway Trail of Honor near the
Missouri Veterans Cemetery south to the City of Ozark, creating
a major regional trail destination. The Chadwick Flyer Trail will
significantly improve pedestrian and bike connectivity along the
eastern side of the Lake as well as to residential neighborhoods
south of the subarea. An extension northward reaching as far north
as Sunshine Street is also currently being considered, which would
establish a connection across the Lake at the northern portion of
the subarea, and create opportunities to link to the Nature Center
Trail, Trail of Honor, and Galloway Creek Trail.

As of Fall 2023, construction of the 1.8 mile section of trail from Kissick Avenue southwest to the Christian County line was completed and is now available for public use.

In recent years, Ozark Greenways in partnership with City Utilities and TrailSpring constructed 25+ miles of natural surface trails around the perimeter of Fellows Lake northwest of Springfield city limits. While these unpaved trails have already brought together the community in many ways, it was determined that a 1,000 foot suspension bridge would be the next step in connecting the trails in a continuous loop around the lake. With what would be the longest suspension bridge in the country in conceptual stages and with hopes of connecting many of Springfield’s lakes and parks by alternative modes of transportation, Springfield is becoming a hotspot for trails of all kinds.

The Grant Avenue Parkway will create an off-street pedestrian and bicycle pathway along Grant Avenue between Sunshine Street and College Street, in the heart of Springfield. The 3-mile stretch will connect downtown Springfield with the Wonders of Wildlife National Museum and Aquarium (WOW) – linking authentic Springfield experiences for both residents and visitors. The Parkway route will further connect parks and recreation amenities, neighborhoods, schools, and fill a vital gap in the Ozark Greenways trail network.

The Grant Avenue Parkway is currently under construction of the 10 foot wide multi-use path, intersection improvements, burying of overhead utility lines, landscaping implementation, and more.

In 2018, the Springfield Art Museum launched a visionary comprehensive site plan for its building and grounds. The goal of this plan was to reimagine the Museum as a 21st century civic asset by expanding educational and public programming space and creating strong physical and aesthetic connections between the Museum grounds, an adjacent park and a greenway trail. While the scope of the site plan was limited to the Museum’s building and grounds, it was to be understood in the context of a larger conceptual plan to link the Museum to other parts of the community through parks and trails.

While developing the site plan it was discovered that FEMA was in the process of redrawing flood plain maps and planned to place the Museum in both the 100-year and 500-year flood plain. To correct this, the City of Springfield worked to widen and naturalize Fassnight Creek. These improvements include native Missouri plantings to create an urban wildlife habitat, pedestrian/bike trails, and outdoor sculptures. This project was completed in Spring 2023 and received the 2022 Project of the Year by the Missouri Chapter of the American Public Works Association (APWA) in the $1 million to $3 million project category.

In the late 1990s, the Springfield community came together to form a collective vision for a community gathering place – Jordan Valley Park. This vision that was cast nearly 30 years ago still rings true today. So much so that in 2020, City Council identified the concept of “Quality of Place” as a priority for the community, and the Renew Jordan Creek project demonstrates this ideal.

With the community vision cast in summer 2021, design for the project began. This phase of the project involves significant modifications to existing floodplain and floodway areas along Jordan Creek and may entail daylighting portions of Jordan Creek currently confined within the concrete box culverts (daylighting refers to the restoration of a stream back to a more natural state).