Stage set for an inviting park

By BOB JOHNSON
Register City Editor

Register/Bob Johnson
David Gumfory and Lee Gumfory, in the background, have spent several mornings this week clearing weeds and undergrowth from city property along the west side of the Neosho River.

Lee Gumfory, who professes to being an “old river rat,” hopes the city takes a cue from what he and his nephew, David Gumfory, have done to clean up city property along the west side of the Neosho River just below the dam.
“It’s city property and the weeds and brush need to be kept down so when someone comes out here they can see the river and enjoy themselves,” Gumfory said this morning.
The two men used hand tools and a lawnmower to cut weeds and undergrowth along 50 feet of the bank the past few mornings, working until heat becomes too intense.
“Now, you can see the river, before you couldn’t,” Lee Gumfory, a former city commissioner, said. “It wouldn’t take much, just a little while with weed eaters, for the city to keep the weeds down and the area looking good.”
Gumfory would like for the city to go beyond just keeping the area clean after he, his nephew and others finish their cleanup work.
“The way it is today, it’s kind of a death trap,” Gumfory said of the parking area that’s about 10 feet above a rocky ledge and the water. “We need a barrier along the bank to keep someone who doesn’t know the area from driving right on into the river.”
Gumfory thinks sprucing up the area and increasing visibility will do more than just make it user-friendly for families and fishermen. He noted his nephew had some run-ins with the law over drugs in the past and was aware that the foliage had been used as a shield by those trafficking drugs. Gumfory would like officers to patrol the river park more frequently, to discourage those who ignore the law.
“This can be a real nice park if just a little effort is put into it,” he said.

THE AREA was discussed at length Tuesday by Iola commissioners, who agreed with the Gumforys’ contention that it should be improved.
“I think we should get it cleaned up, and we should do it now,” Commissioner Bill Shirley said.
Crews from Iola’s nearby power plant will periodically walk through the area and pick up trash, City Administrator Judy Brig-ham said, but there are no trash collection receptacles. Most refuse is dumped on the ground.
The area is popular with fireworks enthusiasts in the days leading up to the Fourth of July, Brigham said. The area is within city limits, and shooting off fireworks there is illegal, she said.
Commissioners suggested placing trash receptacles in the area and that police step up their visits to discourage polluters and partiers.