On a recent visit to Hannibal I took a long walk through Riverview Park. Because I live out of town this was the first time in several years that I have had the opportunity to enjoy this beautiful place. Although I was happy to see many newly-planted trees, handsome road and trail markers and a fine, paved path through the north woods, I was extremely dismayed to see other changes which detract from the natural beauty of the park. Among other things I saw: white, metal road gates; liberal use of stone fill on formerly grassy sites, cement forms and chain-link fencing at various locations, including the historic Mark Twain statue; stone walls and natural stone outcroppings painted gray.
I expect Superintendent of Parks and Recreations Bill Lankford's response to my list (which I have sent to directly to him) will be that these are practical solutions. I would argue that they seem to be made without any sensitivity to the natural beauty of the park. I can only assume that the decision to execute these projects was made by individuals with an extreme sense of practicality in order to minimize maintenance thus neglecting the all-important objective to preserve the natural beauty of Riverview Park.
Of course, the above-mentioned objections pale when compared to the enormous construction project which is proposed on the site of the existing water treatment plant located in Riverview Park. In spite of statements by Mr. Lankford (see Hannibal Courier Post, March 22-23, page one), I believe this project is a proposal not a done deal. It goes without saying that I am opposed and appalled at the prospect of such huge construction in the park. There is no possible way to camouflage straight-sided, water storage tanks which will rise 30 feet above ground (that is three stories tall) and will include a 150-foot expansion of the existing storage tanks. To imagine such a monster in Riverview Park would be funny if it were not so hideous. It would create visual pollution 24 hours a day. Undoubtedly security lights would brighten the night sky for miles around. Construction of the huge tanks would destroy large trees, eliminate recreation areas and create a tremendous, unsightly wound in the very heart of Riverview Park.
Do the citizens of Hannibal realize how massive and destructive this proposed project would be to Riverview Park? I would encourage public outcry to produce a total review of the project and its impact on Riverview Park. This park is a precious asset. It is historically and aesthetically outstanding. The people of Hannibal must insist that those who are entrusted with its care must protect it from projects which threaten the very existence of this treasure. We must wake up to the reality that this proposed Board of Public Works project would ruin Riverview Park beyond repair.
Please speak up now and help protect the lovely, irreplaceable Riverview Park. Please oppose this expansion project within the park and support the investigation of relocating the entire plant to another site outside the park.