Editorial — Johnson County’s parks, libraries deserve solid upgrade plans

04/01/2014 5:30 PM

04/01/2014 5:30 PM

Speaking to Johnson County’s leaders last week, County Commission Chairman Ed Eilert provided what sounded like a gentle warning: “Success today does not necessarily mean that success continues tomorrow.”

Residents need to hear those words because they serve notice that the affluent county must continue to invest in public amenities that are crucial to its future growth.

Some damage has been done during the national economic downturn, especially when it comes to maintaining the county’s nationally acclaimed libraries and first-class parks system.

They were not decimated by budget cutbacks, to be clear. But library hours and programming were trimmed, while parks officials had to reduce reasonable plans to improve their system.

Fortunately, in his State of the County speech, Eilert said officials are moving forward with reviews that could lead to substantial and positive changes.

• The Park and Recreation District is updating MAP 2020, a strategic plan that’s more than a dozen years old. A revised plan should include an aggressive schedule for enhancing parks and paying for the upgrades.

• Johnson County Library officials are updating a 2009 facilities master plan. Eventually, the library leaders ought to provide solid proposals to improve their facilities and a road map for financing them.

The pull and tug on the county’s revenues likely will be at the center of this year’s race for county chairman. Eilert and his opponents — Ed Peterson and Patricia Lightner, so far — must reveal their ideas for bolstering Johnson County’s parks and libraries, along with other amenities.

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