The Parks Master Plan has now made it to the next level after commissioners voted unanimously on a resolution approving the design phase.

The Parks Master Plan has now made it to the next level after commissioners voted unanimously on a resolution approving the design phase.

The City of Shawnee envisioned the need for an effective master-planning effort to guide future development and implementation of park improvements.

CLS & Associates prepared plans providing recommendations for six parks. The plans resulted from meetings with park and city staff, with site reconnaissance and with the review of the 2015 Park System Inventory & Assessment, which was completed by Dick Horton, Consulting.

Following this work, preliminary plans were prepared and presented to Shawnee residents in public meetings in May and November. After the public meetings changes were made and a more holistic master plan was created.

Plans were shared this week presenting final adjustments to proposals for KidSpace Park, Briscoe Boy Scout/Rotary Park, Celebration of Life Park, Woodland Park, Optimist Park and Dean Weigant Park. “The development of these parks will greatly improve the parks system by providing new and improved features to increase safety and offer increased recreational opportunities to the citizens of Shawnee,” City Manager Justin Erickson said.

Recommended first steps include securing funding.

The plans included within the document are not generally sufficient to bid or construct projects, Director of Operations James Bryce said, but they are extremely valuable in securing funding for improvements.

The city is already looking into some federal/state-match programs, as well as grants from private foundations as funding options.

There were many proposed improvements to the parks in the report:

• KidSpace Park — The 3.5-acre park is very popular, has good public street frontage and paved parking, an open grass field, a pavilion with electricity and a large playground. The report noted the wooden playground equipment is failing, and graffiti and vandalism is an issue. Opportunities include a movie in the park, space for food trucks, a new large playgroup, an additional pavilion, sitting areas near the playground, trails with exercise equipment, and its large open space.

• Briscoe Boy Scout/Rotary Park — The 9.12-acre park is equipped with tennis and basketball courts, has many mature trees, a new spray-ground, a walking trail, paved parking, a pavilion with electric service and an open grass field. The report states the park is challenged with dated playground equipment, the storm shelter is unsightly/unsafe and sidewalks are disorganized. Opportunities include more parking, improving the appearance of the courts, a new large playgroup, sitting areas near play areas and exercise equipment along the trail.

• Celebration of Life Park — The pocket park downtown offers public street frontage, memorial pavers, a gazebo, large trees and a mural on the east end. There is reportedly not much regular activity at the park. Opportunities include space for food trucks, a small playground, a fountain, live performances, tables and is central to downtown functions and celebrations.

• Woodland Park — The 6.87-acre park has a pool and splash pad, tennis courts, a veterans memorial, shade trees and a variety of activities. Some of the challenges are the outdated playground equipment, congested and unorganized space, it's surrounded by parking and no design theme is carried through, the report reads. Opportunities include similar activities being located together, creating an attractive entrance into the park and civic buildings, and expansion to become a central 13.2-acre park that would include a small pond with fountains, have an amphitheater, playgrounds, trails and shelter. A wide loop around one end of the park will allow for festivals and food trucks.

• Optimist Park — The 2.6-acre park offers basketball courts, picnic tables, shade trees and an open grass field. Current playground equipment is old and outdated and there are no sidewalks. Opportunities include more parking, resurfacing the basketball court, room for a new large playgroup, new shelters and new restrooms.

• Dean Weigant Park — The 3.6-acre park adjacent to the fairgrounds offers restrooms, mature trees, a large playground, connects to a trail system. Like the other parks, the playground equipment is outdated, there are no sidewalks and a stream divides it. Opportunities include more parking, a splash pad, new large and small shelters, adding surfacing to existing playgroup, and room to add bus parking.

Watch for updates.