A more integrated system of roads and trials and the addition of an extreme sports area are among possibilities being considered for Shawnee Mission Park, 7700 Renner Road, Shawnee.
Some of the changes being considered for this and two other parks (see related news releases) were outlined for Johnson County Park and Recreation District Board Members during a Special Board Meeting on Sept. 8.
During the meeting, a consultant with Landplan Engineering outlined highlights of preliminary new master plans being prepared for Shawnee Mission Park, Heritage Park, and Ernie Miller Park. Once completed, the master plans will guide future development and renovation of the parks and will be implemented over a number of years.
No final decisions on the plans have been made and the Sept. 8 presentation was a preview to a second series of public hearings set for Sept. 23 through 25 (see related news release). The second public meeting on Shawnee Mission Park is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Sept. 23.
The preliminary plans were prepared following a first series of public meetings conducted in May as well as a separate series of meetings with other governmental representatives and special user groups in late August. No timeframe or budget figures for the proposed changes are being discussed at this time.
Officials acknowledged that a number of smaller projects not discussed at the Sept. 8 meeting are also contained in the proposals and will be discussed during the individual public meetings.
Among the major proposals for Shawnee Mission Park are:
- To create a more integrated system of roads, roadways on the eastern side of the park would be realigned, including the north leg of Barkley Circle and Mable Fitch Drive. The northern portion of Barkley Circle would move north of the small lakes area and would connect with Mable Fitch Drive via a new horseshoe-shaped loop that would be located to the east of The Theatre in the Park.
- A former quarry site consisting of approximately 90 acres which was acquired by the District earlier this year located adjacent to the park at the southwest corner, would be dedicated as an extreme sports area. This could include areas for mountain biking, BMX, freeride trail, and rock climbing.
- Approximately seven miles of paved multi-use trail would be added and would both encircle the park and provide access to the existing Mill Creek Streamway Park access points within the park from the park's east entrance. Also planned are a series of unpaved nature trails and one short and one longer loop trail for mountain bikes that would extend into the Oakridge Farm area and would be served by a new parking area to be located north of the marina.
- To help filter and improve water quality in the main lake, a series of wetland cells are planned at the lake's southeast end where silt is beginning to accumulate. To accomplish this, the west softball field on the south loop of Berkley Circle would be eliminated.
- Shelter 4 near the marina would be enlarged to accommodate larger groups and to allow for more use during special events. Also planned is the addition of three new shelters and the relocation of two existing shelters in the park.
- No specific proposal is yet being made for the Mack House located in the adjacent Oakridge Farm area. Possible uses being considered are programming space, rental facilities, or space for staff.
- Contingent upon the District's acquisition of a suitable site in the vicinity of Shawnee Mission Park, consultants are recommending the District relocate the park's off-leash area to create a dedicated off-leash park. The new site should be larger to accommodate increased loading, provide improved access to amenities such as restrooms and drinking fountains, be able to provide adequate parking, and include a pond. This relocation is also recommended as means to improve the native plant community, improve wildlife habitat, and to protect the lake shoreline and water quality in the current off-leash area of Shawnee Mission Park. In the alternative, if a suitable new site is not available or if acquisition of a suitable site cannot happen in the near term, consultants are proposing improvements to the existing site including: drinking fountains for humans and canines, expanded parking, restrooms, containment fencing around the dog beach, and restoration of a prairie area on the east slope of the ridge.
- The proposal calls for the relocation of the Oak Ridge Stable horse boarding operation to another District site which has yet to be determined. A combined trailhead for equestrian, multi-use and nature trails would then be located near the current stable site and pasture areas would be restored to prairie plants to diversify plant the area's community, improve wildlife habitat, and add educational opportunities.
- Other possible recreation-related changes would include the addition of a disc golf course, moving the existing archery range, and rebuilding the main docks at the park's marina.
For more information, contact JCPRD Landscape Architect Jim Wilson at (913)438-7275