Archive for Thursday, May 19, 2005

Kill Creek Streamway Park to grow legs

Plans on drawing board for popular mile-long nature trail’s expansion to west, south

May 19, 2005

Despite complications caused by its association with two of northwest Johnson County's biggest unresolved issues, Kill Creek Streamway Park is scheduled to be extended this year and again in 2006.

In the early fall, a joint city/Johnson County Parks and Recreation District project will build a spur from the existing streamway park, which runs along the west side of Kill Creek from 95th Street to DeMeadows. The spur will divert from the existing trail at a point just north of the Huhtamaki plant, cross through the future park planned for south of Commerce Drive and terminate at Lexington Avenue.

The city and park district are sharing the engineering design cost for the spur with the park district picking up the tab for its construction, said BillMaasen, planning and development manager for the park district.

To save money, the spur will be bid with a city drainage project that is to protect DeMeadows.

"It's great when we can cooperate in this way," Maasen said. "It allows us both to stretch resources further."

The design for the streamway's mile-long extension to the south is to be done this year with actual construction slated for 2006, Maasen said. The trail to the south will start with the trail either crossing under the 91st Street bridge over Kill Creek or with an at-grade crossing, Maasen said.

Thirty acres of land were purchased in 2001 from the Darby estate, which leases property to quarry operator Hunt-Martin, for about $1,500 an acre, Maasen said. A stipulation in the purchase contract requires the streamway be developed within five years of the sale or the property will revert back to the estate.

"We're not going to let that happen," Maasen said.

The park district's goal is to link Kill Creek Streamway Trail to Kill Creek Regional Park. Next year's mile-long extension realizes about half that goal, Maasen said. The rest, like many things in the area, is dependent on developments at the Sunflower Army Ammunition Plant.

Sunflower Redevelopment, which is negotiating the purchase of Sunflower with the Army and federal agencies, has agreed to give the park district a temporary easement needed to make next year's extension work, Maasen said. And although the property needed to complete the streamway to Kill Creek Park is part of the 2,000 acres of parkland Sunflower Redevelopment is expected to donate to the park district, it will be some years before that land is open to the public.

That will have to wait until the ammunition plant, or at least that in the vicinity of the trail, is cleaned of contaminates, Maasen said. Fortunately, the northwest corner of the plant is to be among the first places cleaned, he said.

Opponents of Hunt-Martin's application for a conditional use permit to continue operations at Sunflower Quarry have argued dust, noise and traffic from the mine would reduce the public's enjoyment of the streamway's southern extension.

Hunt-Martin has agreed to shelter the trail from the quarry with an earth berm and trees. Spokesmen for the quarry owners have stated no one from the county or park district has expressed the opponents' concerns.

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