Odors coming from wastewater treatment plant cause concerns for Nall Park, nearby residents

A view of the wastewater treatment plant from Nall Park. Visual screening has been requested to improve the view from the park.
A view of the wastewater treatment plant from Nall Park. Visual screening has been requested to improve the view from the park.

The wastewater treatment plant that borders Roeland Park’s Nall Park creates odors that have detracted from the park and been a problem for surrounding homes, according to complaints from residents.

“We have had odor problems at this facility over the years,” John O’Neill, Johnson County Wastewater Manager, told the Roeland Park City Council Monday. Shea Geist, chair of the city’s parks committee, asked O’Neill both for more work on improving the odor conditions at the plant and to create a visual barrier to create a more pleasant view from the park.

The wastewater treatment plant is located in Mission on the west side of Nall. The park is directly across the street to the east in Roeland Park. Councilor Becky Fast, whose ward includes the park, had invited O’Nell to address the council. Complaints had been received about the odor issue for years from nearby residents, she had said earlier.

O’Neill said the county spent $6 million from 1997 to 2000 on upgrades designed to control odors at the plant and spends $285,000 per year on chemicals for odor control. The air is chemically scrubbed and odors are monitored along the fence line, he said.

Roeland Park resident Tom Madigan, who lives in the area, said he had walked out his door and “was knocked over by the smell” one day in April. He received a return call in 18 minutes from the county wastewater saying someone was on the way to take care of the problem. Madigan complimented the county on the responsiveness: “I’ve seen the change in 29 years.”

Madigan said, though, he found it hard to believe that technology couldn’t detect the odor problem without waiting on residents to report it. Geist said the parks committee was planning to distribute magnets to residents with the wastewater number on it so problems can be reported immediately.

Dr. Sherrie Thomas expressed health concerns about the chemicals in the air from the plant. “These may be more critical than the odors,” she said. O’Neill said the tanks are covered and piping pulls the air off the tanks to be scrubbed.

The city has been working on improvements to Nall Park in recent months and this year held the city’s annual egg hunt at the park.