A version of Kansas City’s “Loose Park” may be coming to Johnson County.
If all goes as planned, Johnson County would finally have a large, magnificent park in the middle of the county. This would be one of the most significant events in Johnson County in my memory.
According to reliable sources, the 136-acre Meadowbrook Golf Club, at 91st Street and Nall Avenue in Prairie Village, will be redeveloped into two-thirds park and one-third mostly residential development.
That would make the 88-acre park larger than the 75 acres at Loose Park, at 51st and Wornall in Kansas City. Loose Park was also a former golf course, part of the Kansas City Country Club, which moved to Mission Hills in 1925.
The Meadowbrook park would be more than double the 44 acres at Johnson County’s existing “close-in” Antioch Park, at 65th Street and Antioch Road in Overland Park. It would be considerably smaller, of course, than Shawnee Mission Park, which sprawls across 1,236 acres in the western part of the county.
Meadowbrook was acquired in 2010 by VanTrust Real Estate, headquartered in Kansas City. The club was closed late last year.
People I’ve talked to say the land, zoned as R-1, could have been fully developed as single-family homes. But the decision was made instead to incorporate most of the property as park land. The preliminary plans for redevelopment, which are nearing completion, will require rezoning. Those who have seen drawings say that the residential plans indicate a strong European feel, and that the development is very high quality with varying density.
Officials at VanTrust Real Estate did not want to comment specifically about their plans for Meadowbrook, although they said there would be an announcement after they had met further with city and county officials.
It is estimated the park would encompass several miles of walking and jogging trails.
By comparison, the nearby Franklin Park, 88th Street and Roe Blvd., is 11 acres and its walking-jogging trail is one-half mile long.
What specifically would go into the park likely would be determined by Johnson County Park and Recreation, which would be responsible for maintaining the park.
Jill Geller, executive director for Johnson County Park and Recreation, said they have been looking for additional green space in the northeast part of the county, and, “there just is not a lot of green space available.” She added, “Park and Rec would be very interested in this park and the responsibility to maintain it. I think the park would be a great thing.”
Public sessions, as in all rezoning matters, would be a key part of the process. In fact, those who have talked with the developers say they are determined to seek more public input than is required.
“Successful conclusion of discussions between the city of Prairie Village, private sector ownership and Johnson County Parks and Recreation will provide a unique opportunity to preserve open space for public use and would be a significant asset in supporting our community’s quality of life,” said County Chairman Ed Eilert.
Former Prairie Village mayor and recently elected Johnson County commissioner Ron Shaffer, who represents northeast Johnson County, said of the Meadowbrook project: “What I have seen is very exciting. If things keep heading in the right direction, it will be a real plus for northeast Johnson County. It is an opportunity that deserves serious consideration.”
I’ve been writing columns for years saying that a large “close-in” park is the biggest missing piece in the quality of life in northeast Johnson County. This is, indeed, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
To reach Steve Rose, longtime Johnson County columnist, send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.