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Jun 28

No date set, but watch for upcoming announcement of future ribbon cutting event

Posted on June 28, 2018 at 4:52 PM by Becky Burnside

As of late June, Big Bull Creek Park was approaching substantial completion, but JCPRD officials will wait to set a date for a ribbon cutting event until punch list items and code inspections have been completed. 

“We’re closely monitoring construction as it nears completion” said JCPRD Deputy Director Jeff Stewart. “Our project manager is visiting the site daily and communicating and coordinating with the contractors on a daily basis. Until we’ve passed all code inspections, we can’t set an opening date.”

But not having a date hasn’t kept officials from planning a ribbon cutting event for the 2000 acre park located between Edgerton and Gardner in southwest Johnson County. 

A Saturday morning event is anticipated, and will include comments from JCPRD staff and board members, representatives of the Johnson County Board of County Commissioners, and a member of the 1998 campaign committee, whose success made acquisition of the property possible.

Giveaway items, including T-shirts and water bottles (while limited supplies last), are also planned, as are some light refreshments. 

The public will be invited to visit all three areas of Phase I development at the new park during the ribbon cutting event.

The northernmost new development is a combined park maintenance building and Johnson County Park Police substation located just north of the intersection of Four Corners Road and 199th St.  Adjacent to the facility is a new disc golf course that will be open to the public.  A free disc will be given (while limited supplies last) to those that stop by the course immediately following the ribbon cutting ceremony. 

“Staff will be available to give tours of the facility and to answer questions,” Stewart said. “The restroom facility in the front of that building will be open to the public during park hours.”

The nature-themed playground, located on Sunflower Road north of 207th St. in the park’s central region, will be the site of the ribbon cutting ceremony.

“We’ll station the ribbon cutting ceremony there, where people will be able to enjoy the very large nature-based playground, which is incredible and one of a kind destination playground,” Stewart said. “I can’t wait for everyone to see it,” he said. “The public will also enjoy the new looped trail, two large picnic shelters, and the four-season restroom facility that will serve park visitors.”

The nature-themed playground includes separate zones for ages five to 12, and two to five, and will be the first playground within JCPRD with seasonal water features. There’s also ample parking, although officials are also planning possible overflow parking on opening day in the city of Edgerton’s Martin Creek Park. 

The final Phase I park development is a group campground near 213th St. east of Spoon Creek Road, which will be reservable by organized youth groups.

“The group camping area will have multiple camping pods, mowed pathways, as well as a large picnic shelter and four season restroom facility,” Stewart said. 

It’s always hard to predict how many members of the public will attend one of JCPRD’s ribbon cutting events. In April of this year, more than 400 people attended a ribbon cutting for Antioch Park’s Dodge Town play area, and over Labor Day weekend, more than 1,000 took part in a ribbon cutting at Shawnee Mission Park’s new beach house. Despite a driving rain, in April 2017 120 people came out for Big Bull Creek Park’s groundbreaking. 

“I think it will be heavily attended,” Stewart said. “The community will finally be able to enjoy what will now be the largest JCPRD park. It’s been twenty years that JCPRD has owned the property.”

Stewart added that, depending on the timing, Big Bull Creek Park facilities could be made available to the public prior to the ribbon cutting event. 
“Our intention is to have it available once it is fully complete, regardless of the date we do the ceremony,” he said.

Keep watching for announcements about Big Bull Creek Park

Jun 28

Final JCPRD youth and preschool swim lessons of summer begin July 9 and 23

Posted on June 28, 2018 at 4:26 PM by Becky Burnside

There's still time this summer for preschoolers and youth to learn to swim or improve their existing swimming skills. 

JCPRD's summer swim lessons have sessions beginning July 9 and 23 at both the Roeland Park Aquatic Center, 4843 Rosewood Dr., Roeland Park, and at the Prairie Village Pool at 7710 Delmar, Prairie Village. 
"JCPRD lessons are going great" said Aquatics Leader Shannon Plueger. "We have had nothing but compliments on swim lessons.  The pool water is refreshing.  Lifeguards and instructors have a smile on their faces, and love what they are doing."

Plueger estimated that over the summer, about 250 participants will take part in JCPRD's group lessons swim lessons, and another 50 will take part in private lessons. She added that parents appreciate JCPRD’s seasoned instructors, many of which return year after year, as well as the course structure.

District swim lessons offer a progression of instructional courses which can take a swimmer from basic level skills to pre-swim team skills. Swim lessons for preschool and youth involve eight 30-minute lessons for $60 for Johnson County residents or $66 for nonresidents.
Preschool offerings include a Parent & Tot class for ages six months to two and one-half years with a parent, and an Aqua Tot Class for ages two and one-half to five. Youth classes for ages five and older are generally skill-based and are not age specific. Levels include Novice, Advance Novice, and Intermediate. All of these programs have classes beginning July 9 and 23. Private swim lessons for adults at all skill levels are also available by appointment.

To find these programs in the My JCPRD Activities catalog and online at, browse first under preschool or youth and then under aquatics. In the catalog and when using the website’s advanced search, look for the keywords “swim lesson.” For more information or to register by phone, call (913) 831-3359 or register online.

Keep in mind that Aug. 12 is the last day of pool operations this year for the RPAC. During an October 2017 storm, the dome which used to cover the pool from Labor Day to Memorial Day received extensive damage, and a decision was made by city and JCPRD officials to operate RPAC as a summer season-only facility for the foreseeable future.
Jun 28

JCPRD programs and facilities lauded with recent honors and awards

Posted on June 28, 2018 at 10:03 AM by Becky Burnside

JCPRD has recently received a number of awards and honors that we’d love to tell you about!
Winning facilities included Shawnee Mission Park, The Theatre in the Park, and the Johnson County Museum. 
Specific honors included Money Magazine’s naming of Shawnee Mission Park as the best park in Kansas, Shawnee Mission Park’s recognition on the Shawnee Post’s 2018 Best of Shawnee list as both Best Local Attraction and Best Event Venue, and the KC Parent readers naming The Theatre in the Park as a Favorite Outdoor Family Destination. In addition, The American Association for State and Local History (AASLH), recently selected the Johnson County Museum for a 2018 Award of Merit honoring its signature exhibit, “Becoming Johnson County,” and the museum also recently announced its participation in the Blue Star Museums program, through which it is offering free admission to military personnel and their families this summer.
In its May 25 issue, Money Magazine listed “The Best Park in Every U.S. State” and the District of Columbia based on a Yelp algorithm which “considered both the number of positive park reviews and its business star ratings.” Winning parks included quaint local parks, bustling community hubs, as well as some massive national parks.
Parks recognized from adjoining states included: Omaha’s Zorinsky Lake Park for Nebraska, Forest Park in Saint Louis for Missouri, Rocky Mountain National Park for Colorado, and Tulsa’s Guthrie Green for Oklahoma. Other parks on the list included some very recognizable names including: Acadia National Park in Maine, New York City’s Central Park for the state of New York, Great Smoky Mountains National Park for Tennessee, Custer State Park in South Dakota, Glacier National Park for Montana, Carlsbad Cavern in New Mexico, Grand Teton National Park for Wyoming.
In naming Shawnee Mission Park Best Local Attraction, the Shawnee Post points out that the park is the largest in the county and mentioned unique features like the off-leash dog area. In naming the park best event venue, the paper notes it has 11 shelters with access to amenities like grills, restrooms, and playgrounds, and notes that The Theatre in the Park complex is also available for events. 
In naming The Theatre in the Park a Favorite Outdoor Family destination, KC Parent had it share this distinction with two other notable facilities: the Kansas City Zoo, and Worlds of Fun / Oceans of Fun.
The AASLH Leadership in History Awards is the nation’s most prestigious competition for recognition of achievement in state and local history.  The group’s Leadership in History awards committee recognized the local museum’s “Becoming Johnson County” exhibit with a 2018 Award of Merit. The actual award will be presented during AASLH’s annual meeting in late September in Kansas City. The Johnson County Museum was a major contributor to bring the national conference to the Kansas City area this year, which has not happened since 1970. The museum has been awarded five previous awards from AASLH in past years, including two awards of merit in 2007, a commendation award in 2002, and two awards of merit in 1999. Since 1988, the Johnson County Museum has been recognized for excellence by national, state, and regional organizations.
While mentioning museum exhibits, it’s worth noting that the museum also currently has a temporary exhibit called “Let’s Celebrate: Johnson County Museum Turns 50!” on display through Aug. 4. This exhibit is included in regular museum admission of $5 for adults, $4 for seniors, and $3 for children. 
Through the Blue Star Museums program, more than 2,000 museums across America offer free admission to the nation’s active duty military personnel and their families from Memorial Day through Labor Day.  While this program is now in its ninth year, this is the first time the local museum has participated.  Blue Star Museums, is a collaboration of the National Endowment for the Arts, Blue Star Families, the Department of Defense, and participating museums.