Archive for Thursday, July 5, 2007

River front park should be asset to De Soto, region

July 5, 2007

When De Soto City Administrator Pat Guilfoyle conceived the plan late last year to fast track the design and development of Kaw River Front Park, few would have foreseen that process going forward rapidly enough that the park on 36 West Bottoms acres would be the home of De Soto Days in 2008.

With Doug Pickert narrowing in on a final design from direction the De Soto City Council provided after viewing three initial concept designs and $450,000 of funding apparently in the pipeline from recent five-year council capital improvement project process, the pieces are in place to make that unlikely scenario a reality.

Any park the city develops at the eventual cost to taxpayers of $600,000 should first and foremost benefit the residents of De Soto. And there is plenty in the park's three preliminary designs that does just that, from the thought given to providing a new home to the city's annual community festival, to more traditional park space and campsites for youth groups.

But to give local taxpayers the best return, it also is important a 36-acre park's appeal reaches beyond city limits. It is reasonable to believe the Kaw River Front Park will.

The site is already the home of a boat ramp that draws praise from river enthusiasts as the best such facility on the river. As word of its excellence spreads, it will become the starting or destination point of more and more outings on the river. An active park at the location with a campsite will encourage even more use of the ramp, bringing more people to De Soto.

The designs also include a recreational vehicle park for somewhere from 18 to 30 RVs, which will give De Soto residents a local place to get away and attract those from out of town. Those visitors will pay user fees to help pay for the park's operations and are likely to do some shopping while in the city.

A look at various maps reveals there are no parks on the Kansas River from Lawrence east to Kansas City, Mo. Neither the state nor Johnson County has a park presence on the river. The Lawrence park is pretty much an exception as no such park exists in Topeka or Manhattan.

That will make Kaw River Front Park unique, and should be an asset to De Soto and the region.

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