City making plans for Platte Landing Park
The majority of Parkville residents who responded to a city survey about the future of Platte Landing Park prefer passive recreation, such as enjoying nature while walking on the park’s trails.
The park features a wetlands habitat, which is rare in Missouri.
A firm specializing in surveys reported the results during a joint meeting last week of the Community Land and Recreation Board (CLARB) and Board of Aldermen. The results could bring the board closer to settling a debate about the future of the park and whether city officials should focus on ball fields or natural settings.
Several residents have voiced concern about the fields during board of aldermen open forums. At one point, board members planned for lighting at baseball fields, but the possibility sparked debate about the effects on wildlife, especially birds, who rely on the wetlands during their annual migration. The board later dropped the lighting component.
More than 900 people responded to the survey, collected online and via paper copies between Dec. 1, 2021 and Jan.14. City officials mailed a copy of the survey to each of the city’s approximately 2,000 households to which most responded online, Public Works Director Alysen Abel said at the meeting.
Results showed that more than 60 percent of those responding preferred preserving natural landscapes and amenities that would aid in hiking such as trails, boardwalks, overlooks and more trees, according to Laurie Brown, a conservation ecologist who presented the results for Vireo, a Kansas City area landscape architecture and environmental planning firm, which city officials hired to conduct the survey.
Amenities that support such activities include the addition of restrooms for use by hikers. When asked about what type of athletic fields should be included in the area, 68 percent of those responding chose the option “none” and instead preferred steps to “preserve the natural beauty” of the area, Brown said. She added that the percentage of those responding to the survey was very high.
“Usually you’re lucky to get a small percentage,” Brown said during a telephone interview after the meeting. The large response indicates the “public is interested in the subject.”
Alderman Doug Wylie expressed concern that the way the questions were worded on the survey “seemed slanted toward the idea of athletic fields.” He said too many of the survey’s questions focused on the type of athletic fields residents would like to see in the park when most surveyed did not favor such fields. He also complained that city officials refer to the city’s master plan, a document created by city officials “umpteen years ago” and it may not still be relevant. Abel added that city officials plan to hire a parks director. She said the addition should help in planning the future of the park, which the city purchased in 2019 from Platte County for $1.
A traffic analyst also provided information about traffic flow in the area so that officials could decide possible changes to the roadways leading into the area. A representative of the company that performed the traffic analysis said if plans proceed to focus on natural amenities and not ball fields, traffic would be less of a consideration.
A public forum, providing residents an opportunity to speak about their wishes for the park’s future, will be held at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 16 at city hall. The event also will be livestreamed through the city’s website at parkvillemo.gov.