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City ready for 'fat seson'
on sales tax revenue

by Kim Ficket
Landmark reporter

A $2 million offering from Platte County to the City of Kansas City for a proposed Northland aquatics center may be the stepping stone in a $6.5 million project.

The center, which would be built at the northwest corner of Tiffany Springs Road and North Congress Avenue, would encompass an 13,000-square-foot leisure pool with water slides, water playground, current channel and zero-depth beach entry, as well as an eight-lane, 25-yard competitive pool.

According to Platte County Parks and Rec Director Brian Nowotny, the county recognized a potential partnership between the two entities after seeing the results of an aquatics survey completed by the City of Kansas City.

"The survey done by Kansas City and for the City of Kansas City, took a look at the needs north and south of the river regarding multiple aquatics facilities across the metropolitan area," said Nowotny. "The survey determined that the Tiffany Springs area would be one of the top rated sites in the Northland for an aquatics center."

The survey, which was conducted in the winter of 2001 by Bucher-Willis-Ratcliff Corporation of Kansas City, Mo, studied 10 existing municipal pools and the feasibility of the development of new aquatics facilities. From that survey it was determined that Platte County, along with Jackson County, would be the two prime locations in the Kansas City metro area for an aquatics complex.

The proposed facility would be located on property the city acquired in a land swap that Kansas City voters approved in 1999. Under terms of the agreement, the city is leasing the property to the Southern Platte County Athletic Association, who's trying to raise private money to build baseball, softball and soccer fields, as well as a gymnasium.

The SPCAA would vacate a portion of the 73-acre tract for the aquatics center.

"This would be a real crown jewel for recreation in the Northland with SPCAA's plans to build ballfields and soccer fields," stated Nowotny.

The money offered by the county will come from a half-cent parks sales tax approved by Platte County voters in 2000.

"This project would be what we have told voters that the sales tax would be leveraged and that the county would seek out meaningful partnerships that do that. And we think this project would be doing that," said Nowotny.

According to Presiding County Commissioner Betty Knight, this project is one way the county sees as a great opportunity to maintain quality of life for the citizens of Platte County.

"As commissioners we want to try and build the quality of life for Platte County residents, where people enjoy where they live and we believe this falls into that," said Knight.

The survey also revealed that in the initial year the facility would break even in the operations estimates to pay for the upkeep and staffing of the facility. Nowotny stated that the county's only contribution to the facility would be the $2 million, with the City of Kansas City responsible for the operations of the complex.

"I believe the potential for this complex is tremendous, but the ball is in Kansas City's court right now," stated Nowotny. "The county's offer has been made but they need to respond in a positive way to make it happen."