NEBRASKA CITY – Kearney Hill Park at Nebraska City reached a milestone Monday when city commissioners gave their permission for the Kearney Hill Neighbors to seek grants for construction of a fort-style pavilion on one of the city’s best overlooks of the Missouri River basin.

Catherine Hoke deeded a portion of the ground to the city in 1933 and her daughter Rose Lane deeded her interest in 1980. Since then, block 27 of the Kearney Addition has had a practice field and playground, but that soon may change.

Nelson: “The Kearney Hill Park -- most people don’t realize necessarily that it’s here and that it wraps around to the north as far as it does -- you have this great view of the Missouri River valley, so how could we get people to come out the edge of the hill and enjoy the great view.”

The Kearney Hill Neighbors propose a building with a 14x20 foot deck with a second story of the same dimensions and an 8x8 foot kids lookout 17 feet from ground level. The fort-style is inspired by the old Ft. Kearny that was built nearby  in 1846 to provide protection to settlers. It was used for two years until Col. Kearny built a new fort 197 miles upstream along the Platte River on a widely used branch of the Oregon Trail in Kearney County.

The old Ft. Kearny road at Nebraska City was popular among soldiers, freighters and gold seekers and became the site of Nebraska City.

Residents say the pavilion will shine light on a little Nebraska history, draw people to the river overlook and create a play area.

Lanning: “The lower deck will have seating and space to play musical instruments for social interaction. There will be stairs to the roof and a lookout platform with a view about 17 feet above ground level to offer a panoramic view.”

The Kearney Hill Neighbors also assisted the city in sprucing up playground equipment.

Nelson: “I just really appreciate that the city has kind of leaned into this and helped us make some improvements and part of that is because we’ve drawn attention to it.”

They hope improvements to the park at little city cost will encourage other developments.

Lanning: “When people see change happening, they begin to think for themselves what’s next. What could we have here? That will get more ideas funneled into our neighborhood.”

Nelson: “You ask what’s next, we’ve talked about a need for sidewalks. We’ve got people that do walk to work and walk to get their groceries and we don’t have sidewalks. There are some places it is not safe.”

The group hopes to raise $35,000 for construction this summer.