Archive for Thursday, August 17, 2006

Park district to give city sesquicentennial gift

August 17, 2006

Work started this month on one Johnson County Parks and Recreation District enhancement near De Soto and work should start on another this month.

Park district planning and development manager Bill Maasen said work to extend Kill Creek Streamway Park started last week. The project will extend the trail 1.3 miles south of 95th Street.

The extension should be open to the public Oct. 1.

"It may be earlier than that," Maasen said. "That's the date I'm telling people."

The new section of the trail can be accessed from the trail's current southern terminus and entry point on 95th Street. The trail south will go under 95th Street, staying to the west of the creek until it ends in a cul-de-sac.

The plan is to eventually connect the streamway to trails in Kill Creek Regional Park, which will also be extended to the south to be connected to a web of trails spanning the county. The further extension of the De Soto streamway south to the regional park will await cleanup of property the park district will acquire from Sunflower Redevelopment LLC.

"I hope by 2008 we extend to the park," Maasen said. "The Sunflower Redevelopment people have been very cooperative because they feel it helps their future development."

Kill Creek Streamway Park now divides just north of the Huhtamaki Americas Inc. campus with one trail extending north to De Meadows and a new leg completed this year heading west to Lexington Avenue. From there, trails and sidewalks the park district helped the city install extend to the Kansas River.

Maasen said the park district was looking to install markers at either quarter- or half-mile intervals to inform those on the trail of how far they've walked.

The other new park district enhancement is a present to the city from its 150th anniversary. It will be a lookout on Lexington Avenue just east of Lexington Plaza where Kill Creek approaches the roadway. The lookout will have two concentric semi-circle rock walls (the outer, larger one will have a 24-foot radius), benches, ornamental scrubs and signs identifying the importance of the location in De Soto's past.

Work on the lookout could start as early as next week, Maasen said.

The information on the signs will note the importance of the bend on Kill Creek in De Soto's early history, said Darrel Zimmerman, who provided the research for the signs' content.

One sign will note it was there that De Soto's first property owners, Shawnee Tribe member John Possum, built a gristmill, Zimmerman said.

The second sign will note the bend's significance as a gathering place for De Soto's early settlers, Zimmerman said.

"There was a fresh spring where they got their water," he said. "There was a laundry rock in the creek the women used. And there was a grove of burr oak trees called Possum's Grove where they would gather for picnics in the shade while they had the meal ground."

The park district will install two additional historical signs in Miller Park, Zimmerman said. One of those will relate the story of Major John Hadley who, among other ventures, built a large flourmill on the site of the present De Soto Feed and Grain.

The other marker will identify the site of a ferry that shuttled people back and forth across the river before the construction of the first bridge.

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