Acres of sprawling green space punctuated with destination playgrounds, iconic gardens, a splash park and trails of every kind: That’s the vision for the new county park on the northern part of the Meadowbrook Country Club property that was presented to a joint meeting of Prairie Village and Johnson County officials Monday.
The special meeting — which represented the first time the leaders had all gathered to discuss programming for the park — gave consultants from Landworks Studio, the landscape architecture firm hired by the county to develop a master plan for the space, the opportunity to present the results of its public input sessions and advisory group meetings.
Landworks’ Kelly VanElders told the officials that trails had risen to the top of the priority list for the park based on the votes of participants at the public input session held last month.
“We’re going to make that one of the primary uses of the park, trails for all different kinds of uses,” VanElders said.
Open spaces and lawns that could serve as the location for events rated high on the list of desirable features, as did “iconic gardens” featuring public art. Here’s a look at the priority list based on public votes that VanElders presented to the group Monday:
Based on the feedback the group received at the input sessions and through meetings with an advisory panel of area residents, Landworks developed the following conceptual use layout for the park space (click to enlarge):
VanElders noted that the planners were working on how to best incorporate and connect the southern portions of the park space, which include the string of three ponds, with the northern parts. The ponds may include features like waterfalls, and will likely have both hard and soft edging to allow for the potential of a variety of uses.
“I don’t think there’s much demand for a big fishing tournament [on the ponds],” VanElders said. “But we could see some kind of recreational use there.”
The master plan also includes two natural play areas — one in the far southeast corner, directly across the street from Trailwood Elementary — and pickleball courts.
VanElders encouraged members of the city council, the park and recreation board and the county commission to provide feedback to the initial plans so they could incorporate changes before presenting a final master plan to the park board for approval next month.
Rich Mueller, executive vice president of VanTrust Real Estate, was on hand at the meeting as well, and updated the officials on the company’s plans for the private developments on the east and west sides of the property. Mueller noted that the housing developments on the east side of the property had increased in density slightly, and that based on land use studies, the company now proposed allotting four acres of land that had previously been planned as part of the park to be realigned with the private development and public right of way. That change would reduce the size of the public park from approximately 88 acres to approximately 84 acres.
“It’s a balancing act,” Mueller said of the land use mix.
Prairie Village Councilor David Morrison told Mueller that he had heard concerns from constituents in the Kenilworth neighborhood about plans to include an ingress-egress point at 91st Street and Roe Avenue. Mueller responded that the company was committed to working with the Kenilworth homeowners to ensure the plan didn’t cause any significant issues.
“We have to be vigilant in protecting the immediate neighbors,” Mueller said.