COLUMBUS — Ian Qualls loved skateboarding. He and his friend Orville Nelson would go skating together in the streets of Columbus or at a skatepark they would frequently visit in the Parsons area, Ian’s mother Katy said.
On Nov. 22, 2015, Katy and David Qualls tragically lost their 14-year-old son in a house fire, which also claimed the lives of Charlene Sinclair, 71, and her daughter, Martha (Sinclair) Clower, 49.
Following his death it was decided that his family and the city of Columbus would create a special park in Ian’s memory. Plans were paused for a few years because of funding until a change in city council members brought the idea back to light, City Administrator Daniela Rivas said.
“There was a push and a lot of excitement,” Rivas said about the council's interests to bring the park to fruition.
There were many others but council members Jerri Burton, Jan Houser and Sammye Opela “were a guiding force” behind making the park happen, Rivas said. They made phone calls and helped connect the city with the American Ramp Company in Joplin which designed the park.
“We are super excited to be part of this, it’s refreshing and it’s encouraging to see council members be behind a cause like this — any cause — not only to honor Ian Qualls and his family, but to make our city a better place to live,” Rivas said. “This park will serve many residents in east Columbus. Our park hasn’t had too many updates in recent years so it will be a great asset to our community.”
It was decided that an “all wheels” park will be created at Reeves Park, in fact, it has a new estimated opening date of Jan. 31. The park will include trails and other obstacles to ride on with a bicycle, skateboard or scooters. As of the recent city council meeting the all wheels park will be called “Ian’s Place.”
The park is a good place to remember Ian as he made many memories there racing around the park, his mother said, adding that they are honored and thankful for the people who helped make it happen.
“Ian would be thrilled, he would probably be one of the kids who are down there all of the time if he were still alive,” she said.