Eight benches, three picnic tables, three trash cans and one bike rack sit in the Roeland Park Public Works shop — and city staff wants help placing them in R Park.
The Parks Committee, a group of community volunteers, earlier this year raised $23,000 to buy amenities to spruce up R Park, located at Juniper Street and West 55th Terrace, and the goods were delivered to the city last month.
But last month the Roeland Park City Council refused a plan to spend $14,850 to hire an architect to design the placement of the items in the park. On Monday, Public Works Director Jose Leon asked again for help choosing spots for the items.
“The last thing I want to do is put amenities in a city park without them having any thought process put into it,” Leon said.
The committee, at Leon’s recommendation, recently used a rough aerial drawing of the park to place the amenities. Leon’s department could use that guidance, but he would prefer professional help, he told the council.
“Everybody is giving it their best shot, without any professional guidance,” he said. “What I’m asking you today is to allow us to have some sort of budget to go ahead and reach out to some professionals.”
Again, the council said no to hiring help.
The council agreed to compromise and work with Mayor Joel Marquardt, an architect by trade, to assemble a group of professional architects to work with the Parks Committee and city council to place four or five of the purchased items.
“If we don’t want to pay a professional, we owe it to Jose to give him guidance,” Councilwoman Erin Thompson said.
Said Marquardt: “We are trying to get a few of these elements put in around the perimeter that hopefully won’t affect the (master) plan so we can honor these donors.”
Leon said their target would be to place those by October.
The council will discuss the issue some more at its September Committee of the Whole meeting. Council members will spend more time determining if a professional should be hired to help with placement of the remaining amenities.
Leon and the mayor suggested that fees might be reduced with the group of professional volunteers taking some of the work off of the contracted company’s list.
Two residents spoke in favor of investing in a professional to help with the plan for the park and placement of amenities.
“Somebody is going to decide where to put this stuff, and I’m just afraid without a plan there’s going to be all kinds of, ‘Why did we do this?’” resident James Haley said. “It’s just sending a bad message to people who worked real hard to get this purchased.”
Also at the September meeting, the council will spend more time talking about West 55th Terrace. The street, which is adjacent to the park, is in need of repair and eventual replacement. It services one residence and acts as an optional through street for a few additional houses.
Replacement of the street is estimated to cost around $200,000, according to Leon. He suggested that it might be worthwhile to consider reconfiguring the road and turning most of it into additional green space for the park, saving a considerable amount of money.