Roeland Park exploring building a trail to connect community center to Nall Park

Roeland_Park_MunicipalRoeland Park residents have long argued that the Community Center should have a walking path linking it to the neighboring Nall Park trail.

The daycare facility, walkers and others have no way to get to the park from the center.
And for years the city has put off any extensions fearing the costs would be too pricey given the steep terrain and drainage issues that must be overcome.

But that could change. On Monday, the City Council authorized an engineering study to determine what it would take to link the two public spaces.

“Nobody has ever really taken a real close examination of that land and done an engineering study on what it would actually take to connect a trail there,” said Public Works Director Jose Leon.
The study will provide three to five options with cost estimates.

“We’re hoping that we can have an ADA accessible trail there,” Leon said.

Once the city learns the price, it could choose to do nothing, budget money or look for grants to connect the recreational sites. But it will provide a starting point.

“We’ve just been saying it’s going to cost too much to improve. But it might not cost that much,” said City Councilor Becky Fast.

The trail had an extension into the community center at one time.

Years ago a group of boy scouts made a path into the community center property, Leon said. It helped hikers ease down the steep path into the park.

But some of their hard work washed away because of poor drainage. That didn’t stop hikers from trying to negotiate their footing down a hill, Leon said.

The path had long since washed away when Leon was hired and he put up a sign warning hikers not to use it.

But he also realized just how important the access was to the community if they were willing to put their safety at risk to reach the park.

“They absolutely want to have some access from the Nall Park side to the community center,” he said.
Trails and parks rate high on citizen surveys year after year in Johnson County.

“We want to have a walkable community,” Leon said. “This is a very important step in the right direction.”

On Monday Leon will also present phase one of a deferred maintenance plan for Nall Park and R Park. The council will consider several improvements including hiring a plumber to assess the amount of work necessary to repair the bathrooms, which have been closed, at Nall Park.

The public will notice some changes have already happened at Nall Park. Public Works crews completed several low to no-cost improvements including painting the playground equipment, benches and picnic tables.

“We’re really trying to prep the park for our Easter Egg hunt on April 4,” Leon said.