Zip-lining. Floating sculptures. A sledding hill with a chalet. Those are just a few of the ideas Olathe is contemplating as the city sketches possible improvements for two of its most underused parks — Lake Olathe and Cedar Lake.
Lake Olathe, a 170-acre lake surrounded by 208 acres of land, is located between Santa Fe Road and Dennis Road at Lakeshore Drive. Cedar Lake, a 75-acre lake surrounded by 54 acres of land, is located at 15500 S. Lone Elm Road.
The city’s parks and recreation department held a public forum last Thursday, giving residents an opportunity to view potential enhancements for both parks and offer feedback.
The idea to revitalize both parks came up last year when the city’s 10-year one-eighth cent parks sales tax was approved by voters. A portion of that money will help pay for the improvements.
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Right now, Lake Olathe and Cedar Lake offer a few amenities, such as playgrounds, shelters, some trails and boating and fishing. Neither park has restrooms, only portable toilets.
Both parks, however, offer spectacular views.
“Most people in Johnson County don’t even know these lakes exist, which is a shame because they’re both absolutely breathtaking,” said Mike Latka, parks project coordinator for Olathe. “These parks are not being used to the capacity at which they should be. We want to make these parks an asset for the community, especially as the city continues to grow west.”
More than 50 residents showed up to the public forum last week. City staff and consultants from the Kansas City-based landscape architecture firm Confluence offered two mock master plans for each lake.
For Lake Olathe, one plan showed amenities such as a visitor center with a restaurant and event patio, a botanical garden, a beach area with a water slide and an off-leash dog area.
The other plan featured a dog park, raised pedestrian bridge, aquatics learning center, zip-lining and a sledding hill with a chalet.
For Cedar Lake, one plan suggested a woodland play area, butterfly and hummingbird garden, a lake pavilion, a waterfall overlook, primitive camping and a tree walk.
Another plan featured ideas such as a floating art sculpture, a sunken classroom for educational purposes, splash features for kids, cabin and tent camping, and a ranger station.
After the presentation, residents met with city staff and consultants and discussed what they liked or disliked about each proposal.
Peggy Kiegerl is one of a handful of residents who lives at Lake Olathe. Her home is located in the western part of the park.
She doesn’t want to see Lake Olathe become cluttered or noisy.
Plus, some of the proposed activities, such as zip-lining, made her nervous.
“I don’t want people flying over my house,” said Kiegerl, who has lived at Lake Olathe for 45 years. “I think the city should keep it natural and simple, with trails and boating and swimming. We raised our kids out there because it’s peaceful and that’s how we’d like it to stay.”
She thinks Lake Olathe would make an ideal spot for Boy Scout and Girl Scout camps.
Her neighbor, Peggy Paul, feels likewise.
“I want to see more families enjoy the park, but I don’t want it to get overcrowded,” she said. “I’m looking forward to seeing the final plan next year.”
Craig Sahrmann, an Olathe resident who lives between the two parks, was impressed by the flashier features, however. He often takes his family to either park on weekends.
“I love the idea of a dog park and I think zip-lining is a really cool feature for Lake Olathe,” he said. “A sled area would be awesome too. I like that they’re coming up with activities that incorporate the parks year-round.”
But, Sahrmann said there should be two main priorities when it comes to enhancing both parks.
“Restrooms are definitely needed at both places,” he said. “And the playgrounds are getting older, so I’d like to see them update the equipment, make it more modern.”
Consultants and city staff hope to have a final master plan for each lake completed by January, for the city council to review and add input, and then be ready for approval by February, Latka said.
If approved, some parks improvements could be made as soon as 2017, with others being farther down the road, depending on cost.
Jennifer Bhargava: email@example.com.