As one of the oldest county parks departments in the United States, the Jackson County Parks System traces its beginning to 1922, with the development of Hayes Park near the banks of the Missouri River. A program of constant expansion and improvement since 1926 has seen the system grow from its original 32 acres to 21,000 acres. That makes the Jackson County Parks system the 3rd largest county parks system in the nation.
In 1927, Harry S. Truman, Presiding Judge of the Jackson County Court, created one of the first county parks departments in America. In 1932, a Master Plan was completed and operations transferred to the County Highway Department. The ambitious plan called for the building of a series of lakes and recreational parks. Provisions for the development and preservation of a scenic natural parkway, where people could drive and enjoy nature, were also included.
2 decades passed before the county lake phase of the 1932 plan was put into action. Under the leadership of Judge Harry M. Fleming, a $3 million bond issue was passed, the Jackson County Parks + Rec Department was reestablished as a separate entity and work began on Lake Jacomo. Residents of Jackson County were fishing and boating on their new lake in 1959.
As a result of recommendations contained within the 1962 major Park System study for Jackson County, an active program of parkland acquisition was launched in the 60s and 70s producing the bulk of the park system's current land holdings.
20 years later, in conjunction with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Little Blue Trace Flood Control Project, development of Longview Lake began. Its completion in 1986 added over 4,800 acres of parkland and a 930-acre lake to the park system inventory. This lake-related park development was further augmented in 1989 with the addition of the 720-acre Blue Springs Lake, encompassing over 2,500 acres of parkland.
During the last 20 years, construction activity within the parks has emphasized development. These projects include the 27-hole Fred Arbanas Golf Course at Longview Lake; the Frank White Jr. Softball Complex, which includes 5 irrigated and lighted fields and a 2-story restroom/concession pavilion; Adair Park, a girl's softball complex, featuring 7 lighted and irrigated softball fields, 2 concession buildings, 5 shelters and an 8-station batting cage; and the construction of the Blue Springs Lake Marina, Longview Lake Marina and the Lake Jacomo Marina, which are widely thought to be the finest public marinas in Missouri.
Today, the County Parks + Rec Department offers premier land and water recreation for the residents of Jackson County, Missouri, and surrounding states.