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City feels let down
in new park plan
Parkville alderman: ‘I feel kind of ripped off
after voting for the (park) sales tax’

by Alan McArthur
Landmark reporter

This isn't what they were promised.

That was the majority sentiment from the Parkville Board of Aldermen on Tuesday night.

The apparently-broken promise in question was for the development of Platte Landing Park directly adjacent to English Landing Park. The proposed development is a fraction of what was originally proposed in a Platte County Parks Department Master Plan.

The master plan calls for amenities such as an outdoor plaza, baseball and soccer fields, an extensive trail, boat ramp, dog parks, and construction of a larger farmer's market area. The only things left in phase one of the new proposed plan are a boat ramp and road, short trail along the river, and the dog park.

Brian Nowotny, county parks director, said the county has committed $1.5 million for the construction of the first phase, but there is currently no commitment for funding from the county for additional phases in future years.

English Landing Park is currently about 60 acres, according to Kirk Rome, public works director. Platte Landing Park is about 140 acres and the property is owned by the Platte County Parks Department. Under a memorandum of understanding, Platte County will construct the amenities at the park and Parkville will be responsible for the maintenance.

Jim Brooks, mayor, started off the discussion by telling the Community Land and Recreation Board (CLARB) and the board of aldermen that the new park will require about $60,000 in maintenance and the city would not have ball fields to recoup any money currently from the park.

“It's probably not the best business decision,” said Brooks. “But it will be a huge draw to drive traffic to Parkville.”

Alderman Jim Warner said he was “hugely disappointed” at the loss of the playing fields from the plan, but that they are up against a deadline and have to either move on with the plan or not.

Lauren Palmer, city administrator, outlined the $2.252 million in revenue for the project.

The county has committed the largest amount of $1.5 million from the half-cent parks sales tax. Another $300,000 is from a Homeland Security grant and a $302,000 grant from the Missouri Department of Conservation is to pay for the boat ramp construction. There is also an additional $150,000 from the department of conservation to pay for a portion of the concrete road construction.

The boat ramp and roadway projects have to be completed by the end of 2013 to receive the grants for those amounts.

The largest estimated cost for the project is for the concrete park road to the boat ramp with a cost of $582,920. The boat ramp is estimated at $459,299. Planning, engineering, and design are estimated at $392,934 with general construction another $273,500.

The riverfront trail is $53,000 and the off-leash dog park is $115,425. Extending a water main to the boat ramp and dog park is $199,400.

Some of the board members questioned why the other amenities were taken out of the plan.

“This is substantially different from what we were promised,” said Nan McManus, alderman.

McManus pointed out the initial plan included a large plaza, bridge widening on Main Street, ball fields and a playground.

McManus said the city had gathered information from residents about what they would like to see in the new park and they included walking/biking trails, sports fields, playgrounds, and dog park areas.

“I feel kind of ripped off after voting for the [parks] sales tax,” said McManus.

“It is fair to be disappointed and register that publicly,” said Warner. “But we are where we are now and have an opportunity to create a wonderful park.”

“What really concerns me is the fuzziness about phase two,” said Marc Sportsman, alderman. “The way it is now, [phase two] may or may not get done.”

He said if the county could give them a commitment for the future phases with the ball fields it would help their decision.

Nowotny said there was no commitment they could make at this time for funding.

The ball fields could be included in a future phase of the park in coordination with the wetlands redevelopment. He said it could be a unique project for the excavation of the wetlands areas to use the fill dirt to raise the fields to reduce flooding opportunities.

Adam Zink, chairman of CLARB, suggested they could reduce the area of the dog park to at least get the grading for the trails area.

Sportsman suggested perhaps waiting on the boat ramp portion of the design in order to use those funds for more trails or ball fields.

At the suggestion of cutting the boat ramp, Beverlee Roper, first district commissioner, sighed loudly and laughed from the audience.

“Ten years down the road we don't want to be embarrassed by turning down $602,000 in grants for a boat ramp,” said Diane Driver, alderman.

Neil Davidson, board member of CLARB, said the new boat ramp will be a draw to the park for people and that trails are great for soliciting donations for construction.

The Department of Homeland Security and Sheriff's Department have expressed interest in utilizing the boat ramp in an emergency for access to the river.

Another issue is the increased cost for the city toward maintenance for the park. Brooks said the city currently spends about $250,000 in maintenance for English Landing Park, which is 60 acres.

Platte Landing Park is 140 acres and the $60,000 is just to maintain the small area along the river, according to Rome. He said the cost would just be for the grass areas and landscaping along the river.

Brooks said they were really against the deadlines and would need to make a motion to keep moving or not.

“We have the option to turn the whole thing down,” said Brooks.

Zink then presented a motion to proceed to a final design with the county and solicit bids for the construction work.

The CLARB members voted 6-2 in favor of asking the county to seek bids for the current designs with options for extended trails, playgrounds, and practice fields.

The board of aldermen approved the same measure with the CLARB recommendations with a vote of 7-0.

The county will now advertise for bids on Aug. 5 with an expected bid opening on Aug. 30. The county could then award a contract in mid September with construction beginning soon thereafter. Most work on the first phase is expected to be complete by the end of the year.

Parkville will still have additional opportunities for input on the project before the final contract is awarded.

Platte County purchased the property for Platte Landing Park in 2008 for $1.28 million from Brian and Wanda Kringle. The funds came from the county's half-cent sales tax for parks that was first approved in 2000 and then again in 2009 for renewal.