Home mission statement Cape Gardner Park honors former mayor

Cape Gardner Park honors former mayor


May 9—Spanning 1.6 acres, Owensboro’s Cape Gardner Park is one of the smaller community parks operated by the Owensboro Parks and Recreation Department, but that doesn’t make it any less important than the large multi-purpose facilities like Legion Park and Smothers Park.

Acquired by the city in 1977 and originally known as the Nature Park, the park at 238 E. 20th St. was renamed in honor of former Owensboro Mayor Casper “Cap” Gardner in 2005.

Former city manager Bob Whitmer said he recommended renaming the park after Gardner.

“I was at a Rotary meeting one day and, quite frankly, Terry Woodward once said he couldn’t believe nothing had ever been named in honor of Cap Gardner,” Whitmer said. “I knew Cap’s reputation and how many people thought of him so much, and we looked at what hadn’t been named (in honor of someone), and there was the park on JR Miller Boulevard and 20th Street.”

Whitmer said Gardner was in his late 80s at the time and still employed part-time as Owensboro’s liquor control administrator.

The park’s inauguration came as a surprise to Gardner, who was convinced by Whitmer to walk there one day from City Hall because some sort of announcement was planned and there might be something to eat for lunch. Gardner was surprised by an assembly of about 200 people gathered in his honor.

Gardner was elected mayor in 1954 at age 37 and also served as a state senator between 1962 and 1968, in addition to serving on several local boards and committees throughout his life.

Amanda Rogers, director of parks, said smaller parks like Cape Gardner fit nicely into the department’s overall plan and mission statement.

“We have three main goals and missions in our system, first and foremost a variety of programs for quality of life initiatives for our citizens, another goal is to help support the local economy through the sport and recreation tourism, then the third goal is to ensure green spaces for future generations,” Rogers said. “We want to make sure that we have green spaces in nature available for future generations.

Cape Gardner Park includes a 400 meter walking trail, gazebo and picnic facilities.

“If you’ve been to Cape Gardner and you don’t live in close proximity to this park, you may have been exposed to it because someone you know got married there,” Rogers said. “It’s a very popular spot for small weddings. For many years it’s also a popular spot for engagements and photos of the elderly, and usually there’s a wide variety of flowers that are kept at this place.”

Rogers described the small green space as “a quiet, peaceful, quiet neighborhood in the heart of our bustling community.”