County parks department listening to ideas for future development, programming

Johnson County Parks Director Jill Geller answers questions from Richard Voss at an open house at Antioch Library Tuesday night designed to get input about the future of the county parks.
Johnson County Parks Director Jill Geller answers questions from Richard Voss at an open house at Antioch Library Tuesday night which was designed to get input about the future of the county parks.

Parks in northeast Johnson County are mostly the province of its many municipalities, but this year NEJC residents can influence how the county park system develops and changes.

Visitors to the open house Tuesday looked over display boards on each of the county parks and then submitted comments.
Visitors to the open house Tuesday looked over display boards on each of the county parks and then submitted comments.

Over the next several months, the Johnson County Park and Recreation District will be updating its master plan for the entire system. Parks director Jill Geller said the 44-acre Antioch Park at 67th and Antioch, opened in 1955, is not only the county’s oldest park, but also its smallest. And, it is the closest for northeast Johnson County.

Northeast Johnson County had already been developed by the time the county park system began, leaving the northeast without large greenspace. Antioch is the closest to the northeast, although the county owns and runs the aquatic center and sports dome in Roeland Park and operates the Roeland Park Community Center and its programming. Geller said the department also offers some programming at the Prairie Village community building near city hall.

Walking and biking trails is one area where the county can support cities across the county, Geller said, by helping with the local match for construction grants. The county parks department recently participated in a Shawnee trail. Lately, the Turkey Creek Trail and its financing has been a topic of discussion in both Mission and Roeland Park. Geller said the county is more likely to help with a trail connection, which is the case in Mission.

Tuesday evening at the Antioch Library, residents walked through display boards of each of the county’s parks and had a chance to offer comments and suggestions for future development. The parks department is wide open on suggestions for recreation, programming, capital improvements and future operations, said Darin Barr of Ballard King & Associates, one of the firms helping with the planning. A citizen survey is among the next steps. The comments from the open house sessions and surveys will be used to develop ideas that can again be open to public participation.

Barr said a proposal for the county should be ready by late next spring.