Archive for Thursday, February 28, 2008

Council picks park’s name

February 28, 2008

Thanks to the Internet, the De Soto City Council found a name for the city's newest park.

While looking for possible names on the Web, Councilwoman Mitra Templin put together the combination of De Soto Riverfest Park for the city's new 30-acre park in the West Bottoms.

Templin said she started the search because of the many good ideas suggested. On the Web, she found a lot of "riverfront" parks but was intrigued when she found the name of an amphitheater in Arkansas called Riverfest Amphitheater.

"It implies something happening and on the river," Templin said.

Several suggested names used the word "point" rather than park. The council agreed, however, that the park's location really wasn't a point.

Templin said some of the good suggestions still could be used as names for park's segments or features. For example, she said the boat ramp could be called Kaw Landing.

Earlier this month, the council members tabled a decision on the park's name because they weren't happy with the suggestions. What the council wanted was a name that identified the park as in De Soto, on the Kansas River and signify it would be home to festivals and special events.

It was agreed last Thursday, Templin's proposed name satisfied all three criteria.

The park's supporters on the council hope that as the only riverfront park on the Kansas River in Johnson County, it will attract events that will draw people and dollars to De Soto.

De Soto city engineer Mike Brungardt said R.L. Duncan had completed the brush clearing and earthwork that was the first stage of work on the park's $675,000 first phase. The local contractor was awarded a contract for the work in December, despite a bid that was $65,000 more than a Lawrence contractor. The council chose to award the contract locally because of the estimated $140,000 in volunteer labor and equipment time De Soto contractors contributed to building the boat ramp to the Kansas River at the park site.

"It must be said went far beyond the scope of work required on the contract," Brungardt said of the work R.L. Duncan did on the park's first phase.

The solicitation for open bids for the next stage of phase 1 construction started with a public notice in this week's The De Soto Explorer, Brungardt said. He anticipated the bids would be opened March 13.

The storms of the past few months delayed the completion of the first stage a bit, Brungardt said. It is now anticipated the substantial completion date for the second stage of phase 1 would be June 30, although there would be some seeding to be completed in September, he said.

Among the features of the park's first phase are festival grounds, vendor stalls and a stage. It will be the home of future De Soto Days Festivals, the De Soto Chamber of Commerce Blues Festival and Barbecue Contest, and - it is hoped - other activities.

In other news, the Kansas Senate approved Monday a bill creating a Kansas Riverfront Authority to oversee the development of recreational possibilities along the river 5 miles upstream and downstream from De Soto. The measure, introduced by Sen. Julia Lynn (R-Olathe) now goes to the Kansas House.

A riverfront authority would be able to receive land and accept grants. It could not use condemnation to acquire land, nor could it levy taxes, supporters said.

The authority would be governed by a six-person board with three members picked by the mayor of De Soto with approval of the city council, and three members appointed by the Johnson County Commission.

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