When Max Rhoads Park was renamed to Moneta Sleet Jr. Park in April 2022, the vision included essentially a complete overhaul with a new look and updated amenities. Much of that vision has already come to fruition — most recently with the addition of new playground equipment — but the work isn’t done yet.
A ceremony was held Tuesday afternoon to celebrate the progress thus far at the 1.21-acre park, located at 616 Walnut Street.
The City of Owensboro officially dedicated Moneta Sleet, Jr. Park and celebrated the new renovations to the park with a playground, gazebo and newly paved basketball court.
The park was renamed last year in honor of Moneta Sleet Jr., the first Black male Pulitzer Prize award winner, who was born and raised just across the street from the park.
Northwest Alliance Chair Rafe Buckner said that Rhoads’ next of kin were contacted and that they agreed to the name change. Rhoads was a WWII and Korean War veteran as well as a former Owensboro City Manager before he died in 2008.
After the name was changed, the next step was adding some vibrancy to the park, so the City planted trees in April 2022. A shelter was added earlier this year before the playground was installed earlier this month.
Buckner said this is just the beginning for the park. He still hopes for more amenities to be added, such as a bathroom, but said for the time being it’s just right to get the community to start utilizing the park.
“I just always thought it was kind of an underutilized park, so we’re going to continue to try to get some programming in here,” he said.
In attendance at Tuesday’s ceremony were several students and community members, and Buckner implored them to continue to use the park.
“Moneta Sleet was such a major figure worldwide that we just thought he needed to have something that was to recognize him,” Buckner said. “…So this is all for you guys. We hope that you come here and use this new playground.”