Archive for Thursday, June 21, 2007

Council to view conceptual plans for new park

June 21, 2007

When De Soto City Council members get their first look Thursday at conceptual drawings for Kaw Riverfront Park, they'll find it includes the biggest sand box in Johnson County.

Doug Pickert, owner of the landscape architecture firm Indigo Design, said he would present the council with three different plans for the future park in the West Bottoms off 79th Street.

All three plans share certain key elements that would join the boat ramp on the 36--acre site. Those include:

  • A recreational vehicle camp site.
  • A festival ground with a stage, space for vendors and open space.
  • Areas for playgrounds, shelters other traditional park uses.
  • Walking trails.
  • Preserved wetlands.
  • Parking, both hard surface and gravel for overflow crowds.
  • Restrooms and showers.

The plans he will present to the council will show different locations and sizes for the big three features of RV camp site, festival grounds and park uses in different areas, Pickert said.

He doesn't view the conceptual plans as alternatives but tools to be used to find the best park plan, Pickert said.

"I don't expect the final design to look like any of these plans," he said. "These concepts are meant to be thought-provoking, to explore ideas about what features work better in certain areas of the park."

In addition to the features listed above, Pickert added a "sand box" 100 feet in diameter. It is a feature that evokes the site's last use as a sand plant and makes use of the ready availability of sand and water.

"It is a relatively inexpensive idea," he said. "That is another idea for doing, it, but mostly I just know how kids love sand.

"It'll have mounds of sand. We want to provide water so kids can get buckets and build sand castles and all kinds of things kids like to do. It's a universal activity."

Pickert shared the three design concepts Tuesday with De Soto City Administrator Pat Guilfoyle and city engineer Mike Brungardt. Guilfoyle suggested late last year the council fast track the riverfront park's planning process by selecting a committee to decide what would be included in its design. When that was completed in the late winter and spring, Pickert was selected to do the park's design.

Guilfoyle said the goal was to have a final design by September.

One of the reasons for fast tracking to park is the goal to have the De Soto Chamber of Commerce's joint Blues and BBQ and Barbecue Contest at the park in the fall of 2008.

As the park fast-track design process went forward, council members also worked with planning commissioners, parks and recreation commissioners and De Soto Economic Development Council members on a new five-year capital improvement plan. The $600,000 first phase of the Kaw Riverfront Park was to be one of the top projects on that list.

That was tweaked, however, when city financial advisor suggested the council not front load the CIP but attempt to do about $1 to 1.5 million of projects annually. At a work session June 13, the council's consensus was to trim initial spending on the riverfront park to $432,000 so that additional money would be freed up for the downtown revitalization effort in the next few years.

Brungradt said that sum should be enough to bring water, electricity to the site and build some parking but didn't know how much would be left for the park features.

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