by Valerie Verkamp
Alongside a rising, fast moving Missouri River, Platte County officials on Saturday morning held a grand opening ceremony showcasing for the first time a new $2 million riverfront park.
Platte Landing Park offers a variety of easily accessible recreational activities. Whether you're a dog lover, watercraft enthusiast, fisherman, cyclist or simply taking a walk, Platte Landing Park offers something for nearly everyone.
The 144-acre park has two fenced, off-leash dog parks, new boat ramp, and new walking trail. Platte Landing Park is adjacent to English Landing Park, just southwest of Main Street in historic downtown Parkville.
Brian Nowotny, director of Platte County Parks and Recreation, said the amenities at Platte Landing are quite unique and in line with the Park System Master Plan, which was first implemented in 2001.
Platte Landing Park has fenced in adjoining dog parks for small and large dogs. The combined seven-acre off-leash dog park offers such amenities as a doggy drinking fountain and painted fire hydrant.
“We are thrilled to be here and thankful for Parkville's partnership and all the grants we received to make this day a reality,” and Nowotny. “Platte Landing Park fills several pieces of our master plan, including new walking trails, Platte County's first ever dog park, and a new boat ramp on the Missouri River. It gives us a new regional park in this part of the county where we didn't have one and a wonderful partnership with Parkville to be able to expand the most popular park in the county, English Landing Park, with an additional 140-acres and new amenities.”
From start to finish, the first phase of the project cost more than $2 million dollars. Approximately $1.7 million was spent on the park's initial infrastructure, which included a half mile of concrete road, two parking lots, and a boat ramp.
The four and a half year process to plan and complete the first phase of development wasn't without challenges.
In September 2013, a number of Platte County citizens voiced their concern about the future development of Platte Landing Park. A majority of the concerns raised stemmed from the project's overall cost and chosen amenities.
Alicia Stephens, who spoke as a resident of Platte City but serves as the executive director of the Platte County Economic Development Council, said in September during a county commission meeting that a significant portion of the total cost of the project stems from the boat ramp and the involved infrastructure such as streets, utilities, and parking lots.
After pointing out the connection between the boat ramp and its intended purpose for law enforcement, Stephens questioned whether or not the dollars derived from the park's tax should go to the boat ramp's involved infrastructure.
“I understand that the park tax has many needs for the county, but for those who voted for the park tax, I do believe the expectation was that you spend it on parks and not on radios or other needs. Those will have to come from other places,” said Stephens.
At that time, Stephens suggested the county explore options of funding a portion of the half mile roadway leading to the boat ramp, by means of a transportation tax rather than the park tax revenue.
Captain Tony Avery, who oversees the emergency management and service division for the Platte County Sheriff's Department, said the boat ramp and related infrastructure is paramount for law enforcement agencies.
“It was a strategically identified asset that was needed along the river for quick deployment for law enforcement in the event of some type of catastrophic event. We have seen the I-435 highway up north (Minnesota) that collapsed into the river, we've seen airplanes land in the river, and this is an asset that for many years to come will be a great benefit for the law enforcement community, as well as the citizens of Platte County,” said Captain Avery.
Jason Brown, presiding commissioner, said the driving force behind the boat ramp was the Platte County Sheriff's Department, the Missouri Department of Conservation, and Homeland Security.
“The partnerships that have come together here in Platte County cannot be understated. They're what make everything possible,” said Brown referring to the partnerships with the Missouri Department of Conservation and Mid-America Regional Council Kansas City Area Maritime Security, which provided grant money to fund a portion of the boat ramp and half mile roadway.
Brian Canaday with the Missouri Department of Conservation said his department's leadership with the MDC really works with communities like Parkville to provide additional access to the river.
“We have been working on this (mission) for over 20 years alone. You can tell the work has really paid off. Not any one group can do it on their own. It takes a tremendous amount of effort and a lot of folks involved to get it done. I myself look forward to using this ramp and enjoying it with the community.”
Given that the park is adjacent to the ever fluctuating Missouri River, another concern raised months in advance involved the risk of constructing such an expensive park in a known flood plain.
But officials say they designed the park to be as flood resistant as possible. At the forefront of every decision including the design of the roadways, the type of pavement, and the type of fencing around the dog park, careful consideration was given to create an environment that would better sustain future flooding.
Parkville Mayor Nan Johnston, who served on the planning committee for Platte Landing Park, thanked everyone who contributed to the development of Platte Landing Park, especially those who supported the half cent park sales tax.
Marin Marietta Materials, the Parkville Turkey Trot Association, and the Missouri American Water Company were among those who donated and contributed to the project.
“I thank the citizens of Platte County and the citizens of Parkville who overwhelmingly supported the park tax that made all of this possible,” said Johnston in her remarks on Saturday.
Phil Witt of Fox 4 News served as the master of ceremonies for the ribbon cutting event.