INMAN — A strip of concrete may not be beautiful at first glance, but the addition of walking paths could improve the attractiveness and subsequent accessibility of Lambert Park.

“Parks say a lot about a community. If it’s in disrepair, you have a pretty poor view of the community before you even talk to the people,” said Lamont Turcotte, member of the Inman Park Beautification Committee. “Lambert Park is the focal point of the community. There’s a lot of traffic past the park and a lot of people want to come here.”

Many rural communities draw criticism from not having adequate walking paths or sidewalks. To combat this, the committee applied for the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks recreational trails grant that would cover 80 percent of the $125,800 project to construct sidewalks around the park.

To apply, the committee developed a five-year plan that includes a walking path connecting the schools to Lambert Park and the country park north of town, as well as improvements to the Lambert Park pond, playground and the addition of a splash pad.

“We talked about doing a splash pad where the skate park is now. The skate park is not as popular with the kids anymore — they’re congregating there but they’re not skating there,” Turcotte said. “We want to repurpose it, maybe with some kind of pavilion over it. It would be about $100,000 to put a splash pad there and there’s some grant opportunities with that as well.”

The committee will hear back about the grant in October, and if it’s approved, start construction soon to have phase one ready in the spring

Committee member Bev Froese explained that the plan was developed by observing how people currently use the park and ways to improve that use.

“We’ve been watching the park to see what types of things people are doing in the park, so we’re aware of how many kids actually skate or if anyone actually plays football in the open grass area,” Froese said. “The lake is where the bulk of people are — kids and their parents fishing, walking around, but that’s just one element, we want several to draw people in.”

The hopes of the committee is to develop Inman’s parks into diversified gathering spaces for the community and its visitors.

“We have five potential elements to attract people to the park. There’s the community building, the play ground, sidewalks for people who want to walk, disc golf and a splash park,” Turcotte said. “Those could attract people from other communities but also get people in our community outside and in the park.”

The five-member committee began with a few interested community members banding together around a common interest — beautiful parks.

“When I moved to Inman four years ago, the nice new community building was just being finished. I’m a landscape architect so I asked about who was doing the landscaping for the building and they got me teamed up with Bev Froese,” Turcotte said. “Through that project, we got to talking about sidewalks in the park. It’s right next to Pleasant View Home and we see people all the time pushing wheelchairs around the pond in the grass. We need to have more pedestrian-friendly access to the park so we created a park commission.”

Future elements to the park include changes to the pond, new plants and longer tees for disc golf tournaments.

“We’re going to expand the pond into more of an organic shape,” Turcotte said. “In the future, we talked about having a small wildflower meadow space that would bring birds and butterflies and bees. It’s very low maintenance and would add a beautiful element to the park.”

Contact Cheyenne Derksen Schroeder by email at cderksen@mcphersonsentinel.com or follow her on Twitter at @MacSentinel.