Quindaro Townsite project to receive technical assistance from National Park Service

A view from the Quindaro Overlook at the Quindaro Ruins in northeast Kansas City, Kansas. It is the site of an abandoned pre-Civil War town. (File photo by Mary Rupert)

by Mary Rupert

The Quindaro Townsite National Commemorative Site in Kansas City, Kansas, received a boost on Wednesday with the announcement that technical assistance would be provided by the National Park Service.

The Quindaro Townsite is a pre-Civil War town on the Missouri River in northeast Wyandotte County that was home to abolitionists, workers and shopkeepers, and was a stop on the Underground Railroad.

Jim Ogle, executive director of Freedom’s Frontier National Heritage Area, said the technical assistance will provide National Park Service staff to work with different groups on various facets of the Quindaro Townsite project.

This may include working with those interested in the development of a visitors’ center, to archaeological digs, to developing trails, to putting a price tag on projects and finding out what it would take to build trails, Ogle said.

They also could work to engage a community that may not want to attend meetings to make sure they are included.

“We have a lot of community stakeholders who have a lot of different ideas and dreams about what can be accomplished, not only in the footprint of the national commemorative site, but in the area immediately surrounding it,” Ogle said.

Starting with the Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance office of the National Park Service, staff will be able to draw on and bring into play resources and participants to move the Quindaro project forward, according to Ogle.

The RTCA staff will help with planning and holding workshops and forums to gain public participation in the plans for the site and trails.

He said National Park Service staff has already been working with groups of stakeholders in an effort to delineate and organize priorities for this project.

“That process is moving forward with representatives of about 65 different organizations who have decided to participate,” Ogle said. “It isn’t a closed room,” he added. Anyone who wants to participate may contact him to be included. His email address is jogle@freedomsfrontier.org, and his phone number is  785-856-3635. 

The technical assistance started Oct. 1 and will continue through Sept. 30, 2020, he said, with options to continue the effort.

Ogle said Freedom’s Frontier may use the park service’s technical assistance program, which is an in-kind match, as a way to seek additional grant support.

“Getting in-kind matches is the next best thing to having cash in your pocket already,” he said.

Recently there was an effort to raise funds to fix the roof of the Old Quindaro Museum, which will probably need considerably more money to stabilize the structure, he said.

If, for example, (in a hypothetical example) they wanted to raise a half-million dollars to stabilize the Vernon Multi-Purpose Center as a visitors’ center, help stabilize the Old Quindaro Museum and make the AME church nearby visitor friendly, they could go to a major funder and ask for donations, he said.

The funder would probably ask what other resources they have, and the technical assistance from the Park Service will be part of the list they give them, he said.

Ogle said he hopes they can get some donations from major corporations and philanthropic partners, and there are significant ones in the Kansas City metropolitan area that they need to show a plan to, and show that there is momentum in the project, which would make it more feasible for them to join the effort.

Many projects now have several sources of funding, for example, some funds from the state, some from the local government and some from private donations, he added.

The grant announcement on Wednesday contained support from U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts, U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran and U.S. Rep. Sharice Davids.