Archive for Thursday, December 16, 2004

Council to hear park plea

December 16, 2004

A group that has been studying Lansing's parks and recreation facilities for six months is about to make its pitch to the Lansing City Council.

But don't look for the group, Citizens for Recreation Facilities, to ask the council to build an aquatic center, new soccer fields, baseball and softball diamonds, picnic shelters or hiking-and-biking trails.

Instead, the group wants the council to approve money for a professional consultant to help develop a plan for the city's newest park.

"We're not talking about facilities," Harland Russell, city councilman and group member, said, "we're talking about planning."

The group began its work in June with the intent of going to the city to ask that it consider purchasing additional land for use as a park. Its research showed that youth programs were becoming so popular that the current facilities weren't able to keep up with demand. Group members also found that Lansing was one of just a handful of cities in Kansas with a population of 5,000 or more that did not operate a municipal swimming pool.

But the focus changed when it became apparent the city was already in the process of purchasing more parkland.

This week, the city signed the papers to buy 128 acres of land about one mile west of the city on 4-H Road for eventual use as a park. The purchase nearly triples the amount of parkland the city now owns.

"Our scope changed from looking for land to planning what would be on that land," Russell said.

The idea now is to tap the council for funds to hire a consultant to help plan the park. Citizens for Recreation Facilities estimates the study can be done for $50,000.

"The amount of money is a little bit more than what we've spent on other park master plans, but that's a lot more park there," Russell said.

The committee envisions that the consultant would have several major tasks:

¢ Survey residents to find out if they would financially support any park project.

¢ If the financial support exists, determine the community's priorities for parks facilities.

¢ Bring community stakeholders together in a "charrette," or brainstorming group, to gather ideas for the park.

¢ Develop a park master plan from those ideas.

Should the council approve the request, the master plan could be completed in time for the council's 2006 budget cycle, Russell said. Whatever is decided, he said, the park isn't likely to be developed in one broad swoop because of its cost.

City Council will hear a presentation from the Citizens for Recreation Facilities at its meeting at 7 p.m. today at City Hall, 800 First Terrace.

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