County will lead planning process to determine features, uses for new park on Meadowbrook land

With more than 130 acres of green space and beautiful mature trees, Meadowbrook would make a remarkably attractive site for a public park.
With more than 130 acres of green space and beautiful mature trees, Meadowbrook would make a remarkably attractive site for a public park.

The exact nature of the future park at Meadowbrook Country Club – and its future name – are still to be determined. But it is sure to have trails, lakes and a community center.

“What you want in this park will be taken very seriously,” parks board chair George Schlegel said Thursday in announcing the park plan. Parks director Jill Geller said the “number one thing people ask for is trails.” The new park will have more than three miles of trails, likely to be mixed used biking and hiking. The planned three linked lakes, which are stream fed, will also be among the largest water areas in northeast Johnson County.

Johnson County Parks and Recreation District will own and manage the new park and program recreational activities at the community center in the former Meadowbrook clubhouse. Geller said unstructured play areas also could be part of the park.

Prairie Village Mayor Laura Wassmer said there was no plan to maintain any of the land as a golf course at this time. City Administrator Quinn Bennion said the county parks department will ultimately determine what features are incorporated in the green space. After getting input from the community at the two scheduled open houses in March, the county will go through a formal planning process likely in the early summer.

“The parks programming will reflect the highest and best use for the property,” Bennion said.

TIF financing money will be used to make improvements, such as grading, trails, shelters or other needs.

Prairie Village Mayor Laura Wassmer said it was “the right project at the right time” and meets a need the city has been trying to fulfill for 10 years. During the Village Vision process, Wassmer said, residents said they wanted the city to acquire and protect more greenspace and they wanted a community center. The Meadowbrook deal accomplishes both and does not cost the city any tax dollars.

City officials said the discussions with VanTrust, owners of Meadowbrook, started after it was decided to close the private country club and golf course. The said the work became more intense in the last two months leading up to the agreement.

The new park’s 88 acres will put it at the smaller end of the Johnson County park system, but far from being the smallest. That honor goes to Antioch Park in Merriam, which is both the oldest and the smallest county park. It is also the only county park in northeast Johnson County.  At 44 acres, Antioch is half the proposed acreage for the Meadowbrook Park.
The county also operates a 60-acre Sunflower Nature Park and the 79-acre Thomas Stoll Park in Overland Park. The Ernie Miller Park in Olathe is 118 acres and includes three miles of trails. Camp Branch Glade is 58 acres, but will be connected to much larger acreage in the future.
The largest park in the system is Shawnee Mission Park at 1,600 acres. The county lists 10 parks under its operation with two of those being streamway parks. With the exception of Antioch, most of the parkland is found west and south from NEJC.