Archive for Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Johnson County Park Board to get park master plans

Rieke Lake property among those to be presented

The Johnson County Park and Recreation District Board of Commissioners is to receive master plans Wednesday evening for the Rieke Lake property just west of De Soto, Sunflower Nature Park and Cedar Niles parkland.  The Rieke Lake and Sunflower Nature Park master plan were developed with the aid of two public workshops this summer in De Soto.
Look for an update on the park board's decision online and in the Oct. 30 issue of The De Soto Explorer.

The Johnson County Park and Recreation District Board of Commissioners is to receive master plans Wednesday evening for the Rieke Lake property just west of De Soto, Sunflower Nature Park and Cedar Niles parkland. The Rieke Lake and Sunflower Nature Park master plan were developed with the aid of two public workshops this summer in De Soto. Look for an update on the park board's decision online and in the Oct. 30 issue of The De Soto Explorer.

October 22, 2008

After seven months of planning and four public workshops, the Johnson County Park and Recreation District Board of Commissioners had the opportunity Wednesday to review proposed master plans for three parks.

The larger of the two parks, the 465–acre Rieke Lake property on De Soto’s western doorstep immediately north of Kansas Highway 10 and the 900-acre Cedar Niles property in northwest Olathe, are still undeveloped. The smallest property, the 57-acre Sunflower Nature Park just south of K-10 on Edgerton Road, has been open for more than a decade with no master plan.

The meeting occurred after The Explorer’s press time. Look for updates in next week’s paper and on the Internet at desotoexplorer.com.

Randy Knight, park district community relations manager, said the master plans were presented to the park board at a public hearing Wednesday at the park district’s administration building in Shawnee Mission Regional Park..

The park board contacted those who attended public workshops in June and August used to develop the master plans about the meeting, Knight said.

It wasn’t known if the board would act Wednesday on the master plans the architectural firm Bowman Bowman Novick Inc. presented, Knight said. The park board could vote to accept the plans as presented, request changes or accept some of the plans while requesting changes to one or more of the plans.

In addition to the master plans, the board was also presented with proposed names for the Cedar Niles and Rieke Lake properties.

P.J. Novick, a principal with Bowman Bowman Novick, said public comment at the meeting would probably determine the board’s actions Wednesday.

The plans presented to the board weren’t much different than those presented at public workshops in August, Novick said. What the board did hear for the first time was cost estimates for various phase-in options at the parks and their estimated total development costs.

The phase-in estimates would provide a road map to developing the parks, which are currently not on the park district’s capital improvement list, Novick said.

The proposed master plans can be viewed online at jcprd.com/pages/index.cfm.

New for the Rieke Lake property is an 18-hole flying disc course.

“That was something we added,” Novick said. “They have a pretty good following in parks. It’s a non-intrusive element.”

Left out of the Rieke Lake property that straddles the upland prairie and the woodlands of the Kansas River bluffs were horse trails, which a number of area residents attending the the August workshop in De Soto requested.

Knight said the park district traditionally didn’t place horse trails in parks of less than 1,000 acres. Another consideration is the availability of horse trails at Kill Creek Regional Park just south of De Soto and the knowledge that that park’s expansion onto 2,000 acres of Sunflower would provide even greater opportunities in the area.

Although the Sunflower Nature Park master plan still relocates the park’s primary access, parking, shelters and restrooms from its current central location to near its limits near the De Soto ball fields, it has been tweaked to account for a future north-south highway through the old Sunflower Army Ammunition Plant.

“We’re keeping a corridor open there so if and when a road does go through, we don’t have to tear out any new facilities,” Novick said. “And we’ve kept them far enough away that they won’t feel like they are right up against a highway.”

Elements proposed for the two larger parks include:

• Cedar Niles

- Restored 16 acres of natural prairie

- Observation tower

- Restored seasonal pond with pier

- Wetlands

- Planetary themed display garden

- Three-acre small dog off-leash area

- Twenty-acre off-leash area

- Twelve-foot-wide gravel multi-use trail (11.3 miles)

- 10-foot-wide paved multi-use trail (9.6 miles)

- Nature trail with interpretive displays (1.6 miles)

- Five mile mountain bike trail

- Four sports practice fields

- Sand volleyball court

- Olympic archery range

- Trail access to the adjoining Prairie Center site

- Equestrian trailer parking lot

• Rieke Lake property

- Natural amphitheater

- Wetlands with boardwalk

- Tent camping sites

- Fishing pier

- Boat launch

- Marina for pedal boats and canoes

- Paved multi-use trail (3.1 miles)

- Hiking trail (1.4 miles)

- Playground

- Disc golf course

- Sand volleyball courts

- Four sports practice fields

- 5K boys cross country course

- 4K girls cross country course

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