On the corner square of Third and Main Streets in Downtown Maryville sits a pocket park under construction in the empty lot by Blue Willow Boutique.
A pocket park is a small park accessible to the general public. Pocket parks are created on single vacant building lots or on small pieces of land.
Conversation for a pocket park began in 2014 when the Maryville Downtown Improvement Organization began significantly focusing on downtown redevelopment.
The park will include three key features to its overall design: a historic fountain, a Maryville mural and a schoolhouse shelter.
“Downtown pocket parks are usually done in efforts to beautify the space for people to congregate and to have more downtown activities,” City Manager Greg McDanel said. “They’re good for the health and vitality of downtown.”
The 4,500-pound granite fountain was originally donated to the city of Maryville in 1911 by the National Humane Alliance on behalf of its founder Hermon Lee Ensign.
Originally centered in the intersection at Fourth and Market streets, the fountain served as a watering fountain for horses, dogs and cats. It was relocated to Northwest when it became an inconvenience to vehicles.
The foundation was moved several times and then put into storage when the weight of the fountain began to affect the steam tunnels under the University. The fountain was recently donated by the University back to the city for the completion of the Pocket Park.
Another key addition to the park will be a Maryville mural. The mural will have the ‘y’ missing from Maryville so people can interact with the mural by having someone be the ‘y’ in the photo. The mural will also have a heart design where the ‘y’ is supposed to go.
“I would love to see younger people interacting with our park,” Maryville Downtown Improvement Organization President Stephanie Campbell said. “Also, the park has the ability to bridge the gap between generations.”
One of the final additions to the park will be the restoration of an old schoolhouse. The schoolhouse will be turned into an open shelter for people to rest or host events at the park. Inside of the schoolhouse will be educational billboards about the park and schoolhouse.
McDanel said the schoolhouse would “feel like you are walking into a one-room schoolhouse, but it will be an open-air shelter that ties into Maryville and Nodaway county roots in education.”
The Maryville Downtown Improvement Organization has been working with local businesses and community members for funding of this park. Due to their efforts, the park will be 100% funded through donations and grants they have received.
“A lot of local contractors have donated their services, which has been super helpful to the parks progress,” Campbell said.
The city and Maryville Downtown Improvement Organization are all hopeful the park will be completed by spring of next year.
Campbell said the pocket park has been a collaborative effort by many people in the community.
“The coolest part about it, is going to have a nod to history but hopefully be pretty modern and really something that we can all be proud of,” Campbell said. “This was a really big community project.”