Archive for Thursday, February 10, 2005

Rieke Lake parkland could be developed next year

Johnson County Park District to request money for master plan

February 10, 2005

One of the newest pieces of parkland in the Johnson County Park and Recreation District's portfolio is without picnic tables, shelters or other staples of recreational use, but Bill Maasen marvels at what is already there.

"There are native grasses here we had to re-establish in Kill Creek Park," he said. "The northern part is a wonderfully wooded scenic area. There's rock fences running through that whole wooded area."

If the expected funding is available, Johnson County will decide next year how to develop the parkland immediately west of De Soto it acquired in 2004.

Maasen, development and planning manager for the Johnson County Parks and Recreation District, said the district would request the County Commission include funding for a master plan of the property it owns north of Kansas Highway 10 and west of Sunflower Road in the park district's 2006 budget. The first phase of that plan was also set for completion in 2006, pending funding, he said.

The county acquired the first 160 acres of what is called the Rieke Lake property at this time last year.

Although the master plan would determine how the property would be developed, certain things could be assumed by the nature of the property, Maasen said. Access was somewhat limited and likely to stay that way because of the absence of ramps at the K-10 Sunflower overpass just to the south and the presence of Intervet Inc. to the east, which stopped residential develop ment at Timber Trails.

In park terms, the master plan would probably recommend "passive development," meaning it would offer such uses as fishing, hiking and -- possibly -- bike trails, but not ball fields or camping, Maasen said.

The park development's first phase would probably make use of the property's more unique features, a 30-acre lake and the wooded slopes leading down to the Kansas River bottoms, Maasen said.

"It will be something that gets it open to the public -- fishing access, a picnic area, a very beginning shelter house maybe," he said.

It would have to include the extension of infrastructure, Maasen said. Access to the property is currently limited to unimproved roads that are hardly more than trails and there is no electricity or running water on the site.

Monte Fiegel, who will manage the parkland as well as Kill Creek Park south of De Soto, said he had tentatively scheduled the Kansas Department of Fish and Wildlife to sample fish population this spring in the lake that was nearly identical in size as the one in Kill Creek Park.

"We're hoping to find out what the lake's like so we can make the changes needed," he said. "We don't want to have to wait to open the lake to fishing like we did at Kill Creek."

The lake was in excellent condition that belied its age of 30 years, Maasen said. It was built right with two silt ponds protecting it, he said.

The master plan process would include public hearings at the start, middle and just before its adoption, Maasen said. In addition to comments from the general public, the park district was very interested in the opinion of the city of De Soto and how the park would fit into its park system, he said.

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