In addition to its move this week to use funds freed up from a Tax Increment Financing District (TIF) to help explore the potential redevelopment of the old pool site, the Roeland Park City Council also agreed to move several thousand dollars toward deferred park maintenance.
It also was revealed that Nall Park on the city’s northwest corner is being considered as a possible site for a disc golf course and a technical mountain biking trail.
One concern raised by council members is that Nall Park may be out of compliance with agreements that were put in place to obtain grants several years ago from the state and county. Keeping facilities in good working order was one of the obligations of the city, Councilor Teresa Kelly said. “We are not in compliance with our agreement.” The restrooms at Nall Park have not worked in more than a decade.
“I feel strongly we need to not keep kicking it down the road,” said Council President Becky Fast, who has been a primary Nall Park advocate on the council. “Past councils just kept deferring,” she said. “We need to maintain our city property.”
The TIF district that includes city hall, McDonald’s, Walgreens and QuikTrip, will expire in 2021 and produce about $1 million that could be used for capital improvements from 2016 to 2021. Some money from the TIF can be used for corrugated stormwater pipe replacement that in turn frees money from a special infrastructure fund.
Mayor Joel Marquardt said the city in the past has not made a concerted effort to improve the parks. “The city should allocate money to make them what we want,” Marquardt said. Much of the improvement work in R Park recently has been spearheaded by a citizens fundraising committee.
Councilor Michael Rhoades said he wanted some of the money dedicated for sidewalks and reminded the council that sales tax revenue will be reduced when Walmart leaves the city. Councilor Ryan Kellerman also said the council needed to keep in mind the tax rate.
The council also debated the practicality of the portable toilet now located at the park with most councilors saying it is not an adequate solution for needed restrooms at the park. Kellerman at one point suggested people could walk to the community center for a restroom but that was rejected as impractical by other members. Fast said the toilet costs the city money and is not ADA accessible.
The councilors agreed to move about $70,000 toward park maintenance.