Johnson County will need to request a tax increase to make dramatic improvements to its still-undeveloped large parks.
That’s a big challenge. In the next year or so, we’ll see if the county’s lawmakers and voters will be able to meet it.
County parks officials last week unveiled several intriguing plans to add amenities that would make parks far more useful and attractive.
The proposals primarily are aimed at improving Big Bull Creek, Rieke Lake and Cedar Niles parks. Some of the proposed upgrades include new trails, shelters and restrooms.
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Given cutbacks in the county over the last five or so years, park projects have not received enough public attention. Even as the county’s population was soaring, some members of the County Commission successfully argued for a go-slow approach on this issue.
In recent months, county officials have moved in a more positive direction. They are working toward providing master plans for the large parks.
The public, of course, should also weigh in, and planners should develop estimates for how much all the improvements could cost.
Park district director Jill Geller is blunt in acknowledging all of this will take “more funding than we have right now.”
That’s especially true if the county wants to continue its record of reliable maintenance.
At some point, the county’s elected officials will need to give residents a chance to decide whether they want to spend more money on better parks.
With a solid plan in hand, large park improvements could be a winning issue with voters.