Phelps Grove Park to be home to Springfield-Greene Co. Park Board’s first-ever musical playground

Published: Nov. 22, 2022 at 5:42 PM CST
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - Todd Young loves to bring his six-year-old grandson Max Johnson to the playground at Phelps Grove Park.

“He loves the parks,” Todd said. “And it’s so much fun to see him make friends so quickly and enjoy it with all the kids at the park. Anybody can come to the park regardless of their financial situation and have a great time.”

“I like that you can play and do whatever you want as long as you don’t get hurt,” Max added.

Soon Max and his friends will have a new area at Phelps Grove Park to enjoy that will be located in a space right in the middle of the current playground sponsored by the area park board and the Community Partnership of the Ozarks.

“It will be called the Roseann Bentley Musical Playground,” said Springfield-Greene County Park Board Public Information Administrator Jenny Fillmer Edwards. “It’s the first musical playground in the Springfield-Greene County Park Board system and a new thing that’s started to happen around the country. The playground will be all-percussion instruments. There are xylophones and drums, with many of them shaped like botanicals like trees and flowers. It’s meant for kids 12 and under, but it’s really for kids of all ages.”

The playground’s namesake, Roseann Bentley, has a mile-long history of community service and was a founding member of the Community Partnership of the Ozarks Board of Directors. The Springfield Public Schools Administration Building is named for Bentley in honoring her decades of teaching and serving on local, state, and national boards of education. Bentley was also the first woman from southwest Missouri elected to the Missouri State Senate.

After the state senate, Bentley served as Greene County District 2 Commissioner for 12 years, retiring in 2016.

Bentley helped establish Ozarks Public Television in the early 1970s and the United Way of the Ozarks Day of Caring in 1993. She earned the Association of Junior Leagues International Mary Harriman Award in 1992, the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce Springfieldian Award in 2003, the Missouri Women’s Council Award of Distinction in 2006, and the Community Foundation of the Ozarks Humanitarian Award in 2012. She is married to Dr. John Bentley and resides in Springfield.

“As a longtime champion for children and early childhood education, Roseann’s impact on Springfield-Greene County, the region, and our state has been immeasurable,” said Janet Dankert, President/CEO of Community Partnership of the Ozarks. “The CPO Board and staff, as well as the Springfield-Greene County Park Board, agree that this project is the perfect way to recognize and honor Roseann’s contributions for years to come.”

“She is a role model,” added Dana Carroll, the Community Partnership of the Ozarks Vice-President for Early Childhood and Family Development. “We have a lot of young women coming up, and if they could do half of what Rosanne’s done, they’ll do great things for Springfield and Missouri for sure.”

Carroll also pointed out that the musical playground won’t just be a place for children to burn off some energy.

“It’s a creative place for children,” she said. “There are no right or wrong ways to play these musical instruments, and it will allow kids to use a different side of their brains. Roseanne is a big proponent of how the brain impacts children’s learning and how music impacts that learning.”

The Roseann Bentley Musical Playground will be funded entirely by donation and is planned to be unveiled in the summer of 2023. CPO coordinates donations with the Community Foundation of the Ozarks holding the funds. Contributions may be made at

“We want to raise $100,000,” Carroll said. “And it will be a showpiece in that park.”

As to why Phelps Grove was chosen and the possibility of other musical playgrounds getting built?

“Phelps Grove is one of our most beloved and popular parks with a lot of community ties and is very close to where Rosann grew up,” Edwards said. “She’s spent a lot of time in this park, so the location just made sense. We would love to see more musical playgrounds, but all of our playground enhancements we are able to do are funded by either grants or donations. So we’re limited right now.”

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