Almost 18 years ago, Johnson County officials asked voters to approve a $6 million bond issue to help buy land to create Big Bull Creek Park.
During that campaign, civic leader and lawyer Fred Logan gushed: “The proposed park site is outstanding. It’s a bargain for the taxpayers.”
Voters agreed to the bond package. It was yet another decision by Johnson Countians to support a first-class park system, this time in the far southwest part of the county.
Even back then, county leaders knew it would be some time until they could put together plans to develop a nearly 2,000-acre park with enough amenities that people would trek out to use it. The county also needed to find the money required to pay for those proposals.
Years ticked by without much progress. Then the Great Recession hit late in the prior decade.
Finally, officials about two years ago decided to make a stronger push to develop parkland, such as Big Bull Creek Park, and to take better care of the county’s already heavily used parks.
The most important step was taken in 2015. County Commission Chairman Ed Eilert and a majority of that body approved a property tax rate increase aimed at upgrading parks along with the prized library system and public transit.
Ultimately, millions of dollars will flow into these projects.
In recent weeks, preliminary plans for Big Bull Creek Park have been released to fairly enthusiastic reception by parks officials. They include picnic shelters, walking trails and a natural playground with an obstacle course.
Other upgrades including campgrounds are on the drawing boards as well.
Current and future Johnson County residents will benefit from these improvements. But they all started 18 years ago when a previous generation made the correct decision to invest in a better parks system.