Things to Do

How Kids Can Get Creative in Phelps Grove Park

Now’s the time to support a new musical playground that’s in the works for Phelps Grove Park.

By Courtney Skornia and Jenna Murray

Feb 2024

Photo courtesy Springfield-Greene County Park BoardThe musical playground in planned to open during summer or fall of 2023.

Phelps Grove Park is one of the oldest and most beloved parks in Springfield, known for its large majestic trees. And now, it has a musical upgrade. Community Partnership of the Ozarks (CPO), along with the Springfield-Greene County Park Board has built a musical playground to honor the service of Roseann Bentley. 

“Roseann Bentley was a founding member of the CPO board of directors where she served for more than 20 years,” says President and CEO of CPO Janet Dankert. 

In addition to her work with CPO, Bentley has been an active member of the Springfield community for the majority of her life. She was elected as the first female Senator from Southwest Missouri, served as Greene County Commissioner for over a decade and has worked endlessly to help children and families throughout the area. “If I could say anything about Roseann it would be that she’s a longtime champion for children, so a musical playground is a perfect way to honor her for years to come,” says Dankert.

Public information administrator for the Springfield-Greene County Park Board Jennifer Fillmer Edwards worked alongside Bentley and says, “She has been an incredible mentor to so many women in our community, including myself.” 

Phelps Grove Park is expected to gain more traffic due to the creation of the new Fassnight Creek Greenway Trail that connects Phelps Grove Park to the Springfield Art Museum. The greenway acts as a transportation corridor for bicyclists, runners, walkers, strollers or any other park visitors. The trail enters Phelps Grove Park and connects to museum grounds and beyond, bringing more people to the portion of Phelps Grove Park. 

 Springfield-Greene County Park Board’s very first musical playground officially opened on November 21, 2023, and is located at Phelps Grove Park (950 E. Bennett St., Springfield). The park board teamed up with the Community Partnership of the Ozarks to bring this special attraction to Springfield and to honor Roseann Bentley, an educator and politician. The project was funded entirely by a donations campaign through the CPO, which began in November 2022. The construction began in mid-October 2023 and was completed by the day of the playground’s dedication ceremony about a month later. “For us to raise the funds needed and get the park installed in a year is pretty incredible and that’s really because of the community support,” Janet Dankert, president/CEO of the CPO, says. This new musical playground is sure to attract children and families from all around southwest Missouri.—Courtney Skornia


The Roseann Bentley Musical Playground is equipped with eight different percussion instruments, all of which create unique tones. These colorful instruments follow a nature theme and include the freenote flowers, lilypad cymbals, serenade chimes, tenor tree bells and more. The playground was designed for kids of all ages and abilities. The park board and CPO intentionally made the playground accessible for those with disabilities by installing the instruments on a 40-foot concrete pad and by connecting a sidewalk from the playground area to the main footpath.


On the day of the dedication ceremony, over 100 people, including the honoree Roseann Bentley and several of her family members, attended to celebrate the opening of the playground. “The fact that a large group of people came and stood in the rain for a half hour to 45 minutes to dedicate the playground speaks to me of this community’s admiration of Roseann Bentley,” Edwards says. Bentley spent her life serving children and families, from teaching early childhood to serving on multiple school boards on local, state and national levels. After her career as an educator, Bentley served as a Missouri State Senator and then as a Greene County Commissioner before retiring in 2016. Bentley was a founding member of the CPO’s Board of Directors and served on it for 20 years, which is why the CPO proposed this project. “We didn’t want to do something really traditional, we wanted to do something that really illustrated her impact on the community and the state,” Dankert says.


The Roseann Bentley Musical Playground is located in the center of the existing playground at Phelps Grove Park. Phelps Grove Park also has a picnic pavilion, tennis courts and a paved walking trail. “Phelps Grove is a very popular park, it’s one of our oldest and most beloved parks, and it’s in the middle of town, so the park itself gets a lot of use and the playground gets a lot of use,” Edwards says. “It’s been very popular and not just with kids.” Phelps Grove is located right by the Springfield Art Museum and within walking distance from Missouri State University. This park was also chosen for the playground because of its connection to the honoree. Bentley and her family have lived close to Phelps Grove Park for most of her life, which makes it the perfect location.—Jenna Murray