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9/23 Community Meeting - Recap

posted Sep 24, 2008, 9:51 AM by Brian Johnson   [ updated Sep 29, 2008, 11:46 AM ]

UPDATE:  9/29 Update received from Mike Herron of KC Parks & Rec.

The 9/23 meeting was a tremendous step forward for this project.  The turnout was better than I could have hoped, and the participation was exactly what we needed.  Despite the fact that we ran over - way over - the advertised time of one hour, attendance stayed strong right up to the end.  (The meeting ended shortly after 8:30.) 

Thank you to everyone who was able to join us, and to those of you who have been involved throughout this project.  Your continued participation in this process is essential to making sure that everyone's needs and wants are met.  This is truly a community effort, and the benefits must be for the community as a whole.  And, with any luck, we could/should have a "brand new" park by this time next year!

~ Brian

Meeting Notes

I opened the meeting with a short introduction to the project.  This included a history of how the project started, and a recap of the project to date.  Mike Herron of Kansas City Parks & Recreation (KCPR) was introduced to the group, and facilitated the remainder of the meeting.

Mike Herron reviewed the purpose of the meeting, which was to gague the level of interest in the proposed project(s), communicate all available options, and to establish further direction. 

Mike briefly reviewed the Highland View Park master plan from October 9, 1990.

He confirmed that we have slightly more than $146,000 available to us right now through "payments-in-lieu of park dedication funds" for the execution of this project.  There is additional funding that is expected to be available after the first of the year through a bond issue.  Should this occur, this project will likely be grouped together with other park improvement projects.  This will enable us to accomplish more than if we were to go this alone. 

Payments-in-lieu of park dedication funds, Mike described, are funds that developers can provide to the city in lieu of dedicating actual land.  (Developers are required to donate a certain amount of land or funds to the city as new developments are constructed.)  These funds are held in trust until they are needed.  Funds can be combined for use in larger projects, and can be used on any park improvements within a 3 mile radius of the development.

Mike handed out a document outlining a few of the suggestions and requests that have  been collected from neighborhood residents over the past two months.  (His handout was based on the compiled responses from our 7/24 meeting.)  He discussed the various possibilities of each item, and how this project can be customized to meet the needs of the Highland View community.

At this point, questions and feedback were solicited from the group.  I will summarize these comments below.

Concerns were raised regarding an increase in traffic at the park.  This included everything from late night loitering and undesirable activity to the possible addition of playground equipment near residents who would prefer to maintain the park in its current undeveloped. state.  Comments were made regarding the problem with illegal dumping and motorized vehicles driving through the park (primarilly around the speed bumps on 85th Terrace).  There were also concerns with the placement of a play area along 85th Terrace due to the fact that many people drive excessively fast along that road.

Mike's response to these concerns was that because this is a public park, we cannot restrict who uses it.  However, we can design any improvements such that certain undesirable behavior is discouraged or eliminated altogether.  For example, the picnic table in the park is a focal point for loitering.  If we remove this table, we will likely decrease any issues with loitering in the park.  Likewise, some people commented on large items (such as a chair) being stuffed into the trash can near the picnic table, thus encouraging dumping and disposal of improper items.  We could remove the trash can - or replace it with a different style - to reduce and / or eliminate this issue.

In the end, I feel that the majority of concerns that were brought to the table were addressed, and those in attendance are largely in favor of the proposed improvements  The group understood that moving forward with this project, we will all have a say in what is ultimately done.  This became very evident as we held a vote on what we would like to accomplish:  1)  Improvements to the play area and 2)  Design and construction of a paved walking trail along 85th Terrace between Virginia and NE Boone Street.

We also discussed the possibility of designing and building nature / hiking trails in the wooded areas of the park.  Mike noted that due to the relatively low cost of such a project, we could handle this on more of an informal basis (ie// no need for capital funds or Park Board approval).  However, before we begin blazing trails, we need to develop a plan of attack.

Over the next couple of weeks, Mike plans to work with his planning team to do further research on our options.  He will evaluate possible locations for the play area (should we choose to move it), and determine what options we have for new equipment. 

Though I do not have a date yet, we are tentatively planning on meeting again either in late October or early November to begin design work for our new playground.  So, keep your eyes open and check back here for more details!

Finally, it's quite possible that I've missed something in my quick recap of Tuesday's meeting.  If you would like to provide your thoughts or comments regarding the meeting, please make use of the Highland View Park Discussion Group.  (You'll need a free Google account to post, by anyone can read the threads.)

Again, thank you all for your participation and involvement in this project!