An aerial view shows the site of the James River Power Station on South Kissick Avenue, on the south shore of Lake Springfield. (Photo courtesy Greene County Assessor's Office public GIS map)

The City of Springfield and City Utilities have selected a consulting firm to head the new development plan for Lake Springfield.

The chosen team is Crawford, Murphy and Tilly, or CMT — and they’ve been hired using funding from the American Rescue Plan (ARPA) and contributions from a local nonprofit.

Lake Springfield, created in 1957 for the operation of the James River Power Station, no longer serves its original purpose, as it has been almost completely shut down. However, it has long served additional purposes, and the city has a vision to enhance the area’s recreational opportunities, and build up commercial and retail development.

How is it being paid for?

City Utilities and the City of Springfield’s Environmental Services Department are funding the development of the plan, supplemented by an $800,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) and $200,000 by the Hatch Foundation, a local nonprofit organization with an objective to better the community. 

The EDA’s contribution stems from the larger Coal Communities Commitment, which allocated $300 million from ARPA for new jobs and opportunities to revitalize energy communities.

Lake SGF Master Plan is one of many that the Hatch Foundation, led by executive director Erin Danastasio, has helped forward in the Springfield area. Other projects they’ve helped fund and campaign for include MidxMidwst, Lone Pine Bike Park and Clean Green Springfield.

“We see this feasibility study as the beginning of an exciting new initiative, with great potential to increase our community’s engagement with the inherent attributes of the Ozarks,” Danastasio said on the Lake SGF Master Plan website. “We believe this can lead to a project to directly enhance our quality of life through interaction with the outdoors, and are thankful for the opportunity to be a partner.”

The Lake Springfield Master Plan and Forward SGF

The plan includes the following components:

  • Recreational expansion opportunities
  • Adaptive reuse planning for the decommissioned power station
  • Hydrological studies 
  • Water quality and ecological preservation planning
  • Economic development and workforce development opportunities
  • Transportation, access and wayfinding

The Lake SGF Master Plan is a part of the much larger, city-wide comprehensive plan Forward SGF, that is intended to guide the city’s development until 2040. 

A master team for a master plan

CMT’s expertise lies in air service development, water resources and urban spaces, among others and some of their project planning includes an air quality analysis for LaGuardia Airport, the Stratmann Pump Station in St. Louis and the Branson West airport. 

Steve Prange, the strategy director and vice president of business development at CMT, expressed the firm’s eagerness to play a role in Forward SGF in a news release from the city. 

“We are excited and proud to be part of this once-in-a-generation opportunity to work with our community leaders and agency partners to reimagine where the vision of Lake Springfield intersects with nature, recreation and economic development,” Prange said.

Paddlers float under an old railroad bridge on the James River Water Trail arm of Lake Springfield. (Photo by Sony Hocklander)

CMT has mustered a team that consists of engineers, planners, architects, environmental scientists, recreation specialists and economists to provide expert advice from a local and national perspective. 

“The stage is set to create a truly innovative vision for Lake Springfield with water as the key element,” said Senior Planner Oliva Hough in the news release, who is managing the project. “One of the main goals for this project is to improve access to this local water amenity while enhancing the natural environment. With CMT and the team Steve Prange has assembled, we now have top-notch experts in place and are ready to begin planning what Lake Springfield could be.”

How to get involved

The Lake SGF Master Plan website assures locals who would like to vocalize their concerns and visions for Lake Springfield will have the opportunity to do so in the community engagement process.

While no date was provided, this process “is planned for this fall or early 2023.”

“Residents, neighbors, business owners, developers, schools, parks, non-profit agencies and more will collectively take part in identifying the areas of opportunity and concern in the area,” the website says. “This process will help the team zero in on a list of specific goals for the project.”
Until community engagement meeting dates are set, input is encouraged to be provided via the form that can be found here.

Jack McGee

Jack McGee is a general assignment reporter at the Springfield Daily Citizen, with a focus on regional politics. McGee most recently worked at Carbon Trace Productions, a documentary film company, as a producer. He’s a Missouri State University graduate and former reporter at student-led newspaper The Standard. More by Jack McGee