It’s encouraging that Johnson County is working on a new master plan for its large amounts of undeveloped and existing parkland.
But here’s the rub: After that proposal is finished and vetted by parks and elected officials, it can’t sit on the shelf.
Voters should be given the opportunity to finance the best ways to improve the parks, which offer crucial amenities for county residents of all incomes and interests — such as playing sports, picnicking, biking and running.
Unfortunately, it’s been too many years since the county embraced extra spending on its parks. The recession is partly to blame. But so is the lethargic leadership of parks officials and the Johnson County Commission.
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There’s especially been a lack of urgency to open up some of the hundreds of acres of parkland owned by the county to its residents. More trails are needed, for instance, and have not been built.
Finally, it appears breakthroughs could be possible in the next year or so.
The Park and Recreation Department has held public meetings while working on a new strategic plan for the county’s system, expected in mid-2015.
And in a recent interview, Commission Chair Ed Eilert appeared open to the possibility of allowing Johnson Countians to decide whether they would like to boost financing for parks and recreation programs. If re-elected this fall, as expected, Eilert could show real leadership on this issue.
Yes, that likely would require a tax increase. But Johnson Countians who want to enjoy a higher quality of life could embrace such an investment, as they have done in recent years for many school districts and the Johnson County Research Triangle.