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JCPRD Board Votes to Add Rock Creek to Streamway Park System
POSTED: 04/24/2006
 
Rock Creek in Northeast Johnson County recently became the ninth creek in the Johnson County Park and Recreation District's Streamway Parks System.

During their April 19 regular meeting, Park and Recreation Commissioners voted to incorporate Rock Creek into the Streamway Parks System. It joins the eight creeks initially made part of the linear park system when it was first authorized by voters in 1986.

Following a presentation from Mission Mayor Laura McConwell, 1st District Park and Recreation Commissioner Nancy Wallerstein motioned to incorporate the creek as requested by the city. In her motion, Wallerstein noted Rock Creek is one of the few streams which has potential for a linear park in the northeast part of the county, an area underserved by multi-use trails.

“Needless to say, our board is supportive and excited about the entire Rock Creek redevelopment project,” Wallerstein said. "Through this renovation, the City of Mission is taking a leadership position to recapture green space and incorporate a system of walking trails that will help to enhance the quality of life in Northeast Johnson County.”

"Over the next three to four years, the Rock Creek corridor shall be converted from a highly-developed urban corridor to a greener stream corridor with pedestrian-friendly facilities," added JCPRD Planning and Development Manager Bill Maasen.

During the April 19 meeting, McConwell outlined a city plan to redevelop a 1.5-mile section of the 5-mile-long creek. This will require a complete redevelopment of Mission's Johnson Drive commercial area, but the District will only be involved in the trail portion of the project. When completed, this new park will include a small stage and amphitheater terrace seating, ornamental landscaping and gardens, shade and evergreen trees, open lawn space, civic plazas and seating areas, public fountains and sculpture, interpretive history signage, trellis-covered sidewalks, and increased on-street parking. The park area is intended to link office, retail, approximately 1,500 rental units, and potentially a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) center.

McConwell pointed out that the Mid-America Regional Council's MetroGreen Regional Trail Initiative includes Rock Creek trail as a means of serving northeast Johnson County and to provide future connections with the Country Club Plaza, downtown Kansas City, and the remainder of the MetroGreen System. Adopted in 2002, MetroGreen ties two states, seven counties, and multiple communities together through a system of connected greenway corridors.

The Rock Creek Trail, McConwell added, is also expected to establish a direct connection between several planned and existing parks, as well as be the site of multiple stormwater management demonstration projects.

The JCPRD's Maasen said the District's role in the project will be to provide financial assistance for the trail development.

"It will be on a reimbursement basis, just like we do with any other city," Maasen said.

He noted that the District is currently involved with numerous other cooperative projects involving the cities of De Soto, Roeland Park, Merriam, Overland Park, and Olathe. Usually, Maasen said, funding for these types of projects is limited by the District to about $200,000 per year.

Though he anticipates a meeting will be conducted with Mission officials in the near future to discuss planning and scheduling for the project, Maasen anticipates the first reimbursement to Mission for the Rock Creek project will probably take place in 2007.

Maasen said he wasn't sure why Rock Creek wasn't initially included in the Streamway Parks System, as the system was designated prior to his start with the District. He speculated it may be because Rock Creek isn't as major a watershed as the other eight. Nonetheless, the Rock Creek watershed includes much of northeast Johnson County, including parts of Overland Park, Prairie Village, Roeland Park, Fairway, Mission Hills, and Westwood.

Over the years, he said, the District has declined funding requests from many cities for proposed projects on creeks outside the initial eight.

"This is the first time a city has gone so far as to petition the Board to have their creek be added to the list," he said.

The eight Johnson County streamways originally included in the Streamway Park System are: Bull Creek, Cedar Creek, Coffee Creek, Indian Creek, Kill Creek, Mill Creek, Tomahawk Creek and Turkey Creek. Maasen noted the District has now constructed or funded projects on each of these creeks. Complete are trail projects on Mill and Indian Creeks, and Tomahawk Creek trails are within two years of completion, he added.

Despite the progress which has been made, Maasen concedes, there's much more still to be done.

"We have a long way to go," he said. "It costs a lot of money to buy land and to build and maintain trails."

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