A field of tomatoes hampered the development of Moreland Park | New

With more than 90 years of history, Owensboro’s Moreland Park has provided generations of city residents with the opportunity for outdoor fun. However, when the park was acquired in 1930, local children had to wait a while for the party to begin.

The park is named after former Daviess County resident Alexander Moreland, who once owned the land.

The Owensboro Messenger reported in its February 24, 1930, edition that before the newly purchased city park could be used as a community gathering place, it would first house a tomato field.

“Kids in the West End, and especially in the Parrish and Grand Avenue section, who planned to spend many happy hours playing this spring and summer at Moreland Park, recently acquired by the City of Owensboro, will have to wait at least a a year or more before they realize their dreams,” the newspaper reported. “Already a large part of the 36-acre park has been plowed, and it is understood that only the wooded part will remain intact in order to cultivate 27 acres of tomatoes.”

Owensboro Mayor JU Medley and city commissioners reportedly decided to cultivate the land with tomatoes to help get rid of the broom – tall, woody shrubs – that covered the ground.

The newspaper reported that the grass seeds would finally be planted the following fall.

Amanda Rogers, director of parks, said Moreland Park has a lot to offer the community.

One of the park‘s highlights at 1215 Hickman Ave. is the storybook walk. Installed in 2019 as part of a partnership between the Parks Department and the Daviess County Public Library, the boardwalk features a series of vertical sign stands that display a storybook.

“If you’re the parent of a younger child, you can walk the trail, and while you’re walking the trail, you can also stop and read to your kids,” Rogers said. “So it kind of merges that component of physical fitness with education and literacy, which we know those three elements, education, literacy and physical fitness, are all important for the development of ‘a child in our community.’

Rogers said the storybook walk is updated by the library at least quarterly, ensuring a fresh experience for returning visitors to the park.

The Edge Ice Center and the Owensboro Sportscenter, across from the park’s green spaces on Hickman Avenue, are also part of the park.

“This whole block, in theory and on paper, is also Moreland Park,” she said. “People don’t think of this side of the street as Moreland Park, but in terms of how we maintain it and our records, it’s also Moreland Park.”

While today’s park facilities include little league courts, 12 tennis courts, a basketball court and a tennis practice wall, to name a few, Rogers said that there is an element of the park’s past that is still fondly remembered by townspeople today.

“In 1948 or 1949 they had a swimming pool just outside the Sportscenter,” she said.

Rogers said that over the years she had heard that the first Parks Department pool was shaped like a football or a fish.

“I’ve heard a lot of stories over the years about the Sportscenter pool and what a community gathering place it was, from the 1950s to the 1970s,” she said.

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