Platte County will soon have its first off-leash dog park and a new boating ramp along the Missouri River.
Those are just a couple of amenities featured in Platte Landing Park, which is set to open June 21 in Parkville.
The new 140-acre regional park, a collaborative effort between the county and the city, also features two miles of trails. Future phases are expected to have ballparks, soccer fields, a wetland preserve, an amphitheater and a star-gazing observatory.
Platte Landing Park sits at the end of Main Street just south of downtown Parkville, next to the already popular English Landing Park on the Missouri River.
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A ribbon-cutting ceremony with live music and refreshments will take place at 10 a.m. Saturday, June 21st.
People are welcome to bring their dogs to release into the dog park that morning.
“I think it’s wonderful we can preserve this large area of nature for people to enjoy for a long, long time,” said Tom Hutsler, chairman of the Main Street Parkville Association. “Our sunsets and sunrises are incredible and the view of the river is picturesque. The new park is in a perfect location.”
He pointed out that Platte Landing Park will benefit downtown Parkville by bringing new visitors to the historic area’s eclectic shops and restaurants.
Construction on the park began last spring. Getting to that point, however, took several years. In 2007, as part of its Parks Master Plan, the county made it a goal to establish a regional park for the area. In 2008, it purchased 140 acres of land from a local farm family.
The transaction was not only perfect timing, but a no-brainer, pointed out Brian Nowotny, county parks director.
A citizen survey conducted by the county in 2008 revealed that English Landing Park was the most visited park in the area, he said. County officials were thrilled to discover they could play off that park’s success.
In August of 2009, voters renewed the county’s sales tax, making funding available for the project.
A year later, a steering committee began to sort out the details and public focus groups started finding out what residents wanted in a regional park. Three things became clear: Residents wanted a dog park, more trails and river access.
Funds for the boat ramp came from a variety of sources. The Missouri Department of Conservation provided a $450,000 Community Assistance Program grant to build the ramp’s entrance road, parking lot and restrooms. The grant program helps cities provide outdoor recreation opportunities such as fishing and boating. Additional funding for the boat ramp also came from the Mid-America Regional Council Kansas City Area Maritime Security Grant Program.
Donations for the first phase of the park construction came from Martin Marietta Materials, the Parkville Turkey Trot Association and the Missouri American Water Co.
The two new dog parks, totaling seven acres, and the boat ramp will be particularly vital to the area, said Nowotny.
“Right now, there isn’t a dog park in Platte County, so residents find themselves going to Liberty or even Johnson County for one,” he said. “This will allow people to stay right in the area, near their home without venturing too far out.”
The same goes for the boat ramp. Currently, there isn’t a boat ramp for 50 miles along the river, between downtown Kansas City and St. Joseph, he said.
The ramp will not only allow for recreation, such as kayaking and fishing, but it will provide public safety and conservation authorities with boat access to assist in emergencies along the river.
The second phase of the park is envisioned to include restoring more than 60 acres of riverfront wetland habitat and developing recreational baseball and soccer fields. But details and funding haven’t been ironed out yet, said Nowotny. He estimates that part of the project could be a couple of years away.
In addition to the new amenities being brought to the area, he said the best aspect of the project has been working hand-in-hand with Parkville.
City officials agree.
“It’s been a wonderful relationship,” said Parkville Mayor Nan Johnston. “Working jointly was important because it allowed us to put together our resources and create a much better park that way.”
When the county came to the city with the idea for the new park, Johnston said city officials were pleased because it fit seamlessly with Parkville’s long-term vision to enhance its downtown area.
Parkville will oversee the park’s operations and maintenance on a daily basis.
“Platte Landing Park is a huge deal,” Johnston said. “Everyone is very excited. It’s going to help make our city a destination.”
Grand opening on Saturday
The grand opening of Platte Landing Park in Parkville is at 10 a.m. Saturday.
The park is adjacent to English Landing Park at the end of Main Street. The ribbon-cutting ceremony will take place at the new boat ramp.
The park was designated Platte Landing in order to recognize the important role the Missouri River played in the early development of Platte County. Future plans include restoration of more than 60 acres of riverfront wetland habitat and development of baseball and soccer fields.
More information is at www.platteparks.com.