Parks director set high bar in Johnson County

Updated: 2013-11-13T00:56:46Z

After more than a decade of service to residents, Johnson County Park and Recreation Director Michael Meadors will retire in December.

He leaves behind an agency that is well regarded and successfully broadened its offerings since he took over in mid-2001.

Meadors has overseen a welcome expansion of parks. Some of the most significant programs he led were developing the Heritage Soccer Park, a well-used attraction, and better maintaining Antioch and Shawnee Mission parks. The two older parks are still popular decades after they opened.

Meadors also was in charge during a time of healthy growth in user fees for the department. That was a wise move to protect and improve public park access.

People who directly benefited from park facilities paid a bit more to use them.

And the fees have grown in importance the last five years, when county commissioners in tight economic times cut the growth rate in taxpayer spending for a number of agencies.

Meadors has been active in statewide and national parks and recreation groups, reflecting the growing reputation during his tenure of Johnson County’s efforts. He also gained from decisions made in previous decades, when park officials set aside land in Johnson County for the enjoyment of all residents.

Looking ahead, the next director — along with the County Commission — must find good ways to adequately finance bigger parks and more programs in the fast-growing county.

Meadors set a high bar for his successor. Parks are worth the attention and investment given their importance to the county’s future.

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