A new community center, aquatics facility and indoor skating rink could soon be part of Overland Park’s future.
The city council and planning commission held a joint meeting on Monday evening to review a rough draft of the city’s parks master plan, which was presented by consultants from MIG and Ballard King & Associates.
The preliminary recommendations include building a new community center and regional aquatics facility south of 151st Street, connecting the city’s parks through trails and green space, adding community gardens and creating disc golf courses.
Other major suggestions were building an indoor skating rink and converting two neighborhood pools into two more regional aquatics facilities, which would have amenities such as slides or lazy rivers.
“Overland Park is evolving and things aren’t what they used to be,” said Councilwoman Terry Happer Scheier, a lifelong Overland Park resident. “This parks plan is critical because we need to maintain these green spaces for our children. I think tonight we saw great ideas for our future.”
Although most council members agreed the plan was putting Overland Park in the right direction, many of them were a little concerned with the recommended pool closings.
The consultants, who spent several months assessing Overland Park for their recommendations, suggested that Roe Pool should close in one to two years, and Marty Pool should close in three to five.
Both pools, based on age and low attendance records, were costing the city too much money to maintain, they said.
Although they didn’t recommend any specific uses for the pool after closing, consultant Ken Ballard suggested the sites could be used as splash parks.
Councilman Paul Lyons — who represents the ward featuring Roe Pool — has received numerous e-mails and phone calls from unhappy residents who want the pool to remain open.
He said he’s not sure his constituents are going to agree on a splash park replacing their beloved neighborhood pool.
“I’m in favor of keeping Roe Pool open as long as we can, but at some point there needs to be a community discussion about its future,” he said. “I would like to see all the neighbors get together and think of the options.”
Despite the potential pool closings, Lauren Schmitt of MIG said Overland Park is doing better than a lot of other cities.
“Overland Park is lucky to be in the financial position where they can sit down and look at their options for the future,” she said. “There are a lot of cities who don’t have a choice. Their pools close the next day.”
Lyons was pleased to hear the city was considered in good shape. He also appreciated the consultants expressing admiration for the city’s current amenities, such as the arboretum, Deanna Rose Farmstead and the soccer complex.
And while he thinks the master plan is full of great ideas, he worries the plan as a whole will be too costly for the city at once.
He would like to see the council prioritize each item and use the recommendations as a long-term plan.
As for now, the consultants will take the questions and concerns from the city council and planning commission into consideration and tweak the plan accordingly. The plan is expected to be ready for both bodies to vote on in the spring.
Councilmember Donna Owens, who is on the steering committee for the project, said she was looking forward to the final result, because she knew how much hard work everyone had put into it.
“I’m excited to see how things play out in the next few months,” she said. “This is a plan Overland Park has needed badly.”