Trail, pond, creek among the features
After years in the making, an enchanting natural space teeming with a variety of bird species has been enhanced to serve as a particular source of rejuvenation and respite.
Positioned on a hillside with sweeping views of the tree dotted landscape, at 5380 N. Northwood Road, Kansas City in southern Platte County, this striking property provides a place of gentle recreation.
A one-mile multi-purpose trail meanders alongside a pristine pond, dense evergreen area, and a long, narrow, gentle flowing creek tucked along the western end of the property. A small farm and middle school football field borders the north end of the property. The path’s S-shaped curve is reminiscent of a flowing stream that changes directions for no particular reason.
The sense of wonder the park evokes is unmatched. Near the water, sounds of chirping mallard ducks seem to have restorative benefits on park visitors. Even the parking lot is the perfect spot to catch a sunset on the horizon or gaze at the cornflower blue sky. The judicious use of natural space is credited to the county’s effort to preserve natural spaces that inspire and help residents feel a greater sense of connection to their outdoor surroundings.
Joe Vanover, second district commissioner for Platte County, said even though the park has not officially opened, neighbors in the area have been exploring the park during the daylight hours.
A grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony at 3:30 p.m.-5 p.m. on Friday, April 22 will serve as the perfect introduction to this meadow and rolling hill sanctuary.
The easy-to-locate parking lot can be accessed along NW Northwood Road, about a block south of the Walden Middle School. While the park has been given the name Michael Gunn Park at Platte Meadows, the prominent entryway is still awaiting its permanent placard at the foot of the hill.
“Nearly 20 years ago Platte County signed a contract to buy a 100-acre piece of land in southern Platte County at the intersection of Northwood Road and 52nd Street. In the contract, Platte County agreed to give the seller the right to name the park. The county reserved the right to reasonably refuse a proposed name. Several months after entering the contract, the county commissioners and the owner of the land signed an agreement that named the park ‘The Michael Gunn Park at Platte Meadows,'” said Vanover.
Gunn’s decades-long vision for the park has ensured its flourishing future.
“The development of this park was important to Michael for many years. It is very sad that he passed away several weeks before the grand opening. Michael included a large contribution to the park in his estate plan. I am working with the parks department and his daughters to decide how it can be used to improve the park,” said Vanover.
One way the park will immediately impact the surrounding community of learners is by serving as a safer and more scenic running path.
“Opening this park will allow the Park Hill South cross country team to practice by running up Northwood and on the park trail instead of running along Hwy. 9,” said Vanover.
“The parks department is working with the Park Hill South High School cross country team to lay out an additional mile loop on the back portion of the property so the team will have two miles of trail. Eventually a connecting trail from Walden Middle School may be added,” added Vanover.
Countless 30-foot tall trees along the edge of path will provide much needed shade during warmer months and assist with erosion control. Still, hard rain events have caused some erosion issues, prompting the need to install stormwater pipes. In recent years, areas adjacent to the property have undergone massive upgrades, such as a 10 ft. wide paved trail and much needed road improvements on NW Northwood.
County officials invite the public to attend the April 22 ribbon cutting ceremony where the Platte County Parks and Recreation Department will unveil this new park. The family-friendly event will feature three bouncy houses and inflatable obstacle course.
Musical entertainment will be provided by Shae and Cade Polsgrove.
Last year, the high school duo performed at Art in the Park. The Missouri Extension 4-H will provide educational items.
While the ribbon cutting begins at 4 p.m., visitors arriving between 3:30-4 p.m. will get to enjoy fresh-tasting lemonade. Immediately following the official ribbon cutting, visitors will have access to the new one-mile loop.
Daniel Erickson, county parks director, said Platte County is excited to officially open the Michael Gunn Park at Platte Meadows.
“Nature is the focus at this park. The 110-acre park consists of rolling hills, open meadows, and dense forest. A one-mile loop trail will be a great way to explore the park at your own pace. This park has been funded by the Platte County Park/Stormwater retail sales tax,” Erickson said.