Kill Creek Park opens Saturday
Monte Fiegel is ready to trade in his hardhat for more traditional park management headwear as he knocks out the final punch list for Kill Creek Regional Park's opening ceremonies.
"We'll be open Saturday," the manager of the newest regional park in the Johnson County park system said. "There'll still be some work going on, but we'll be open."
Formal ceremonies marking the Kill Creek's opening, the county's first new park in 21 years, will be at 11 a.m. Saturday at the beach house at the park. The park is 3 miles south of De Soto on Homestead Lane.
Park district park superintendent Bill Cobb said the ceremonies will include a review of Kill Creek's master plan and special recognition of the roles Parks and Recreation Foundation of Johnson County and Russell and Helen Means played in making the park possible.
The private, non-profit foundation owns half of the park, Bill Maasen, land acquisition specialist for the park district. The foundation also helped with the park's financing.
The Means donated 355 of Kill Creek's acres to the foundation and sold another 283 acres to the park district.
"Those acres are the centerpiece of the park," Maasen said.
Cobb said he couldn't estimate how many people Kill Creek will draw. Initially, it will lack the more refined facilities offered by Shawnee Mission and Heritage regional parks.
But, Cobb said the park district hopes Kill Creek will relieve demand the current parks that sees Shawnee Mission Regional Park registering 2.3 million visitors annually.
"One of the unique things about Kill Creek is that to get into the park, you're going to have to walk or ride a bike," he said." That might appeal to those who want solitude."
This late in the season, the 1.5 miles o f trails are about all the park will offer visitors, Fiegel said. For nature lovers, that will be enough.
The paved trails wind along the park's namesake stream and then climb into the upland prairies. The park department has spent the better part of the last decade returning the Kill Creek's acreage to its natural environment. Brush has been cleared, and the old agricultural areas are being returned to grassland. The lowland acres are being seeded with native tall grasses, and the uplands planted with indigenous short grasses, he said
Next summer, the park will offer swimming and small-craft boating at its 28acre center lake. The extent of fishing activity at the park next summer will be determined by the park district and the Kansas Department of Wildlife as they monitor the progress of the bass, walleye, bluegill, crappie, flathead and catfish stocked in the lake.
"We will open up the ponds to fishing," Fiegel said. "We'll know more about when the lake will be open for fishing after a electro-netting next spring. We'll sit down the winter and deter creel and slot limits for the lake."