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Parks master plan coming together
Upgrades in line for neighborhood parks

The city of Derby held a public forum on July 28 to discuss its master plan regarding four neighborhood parks. Updates to High Park, Garrett Park, English Park and Hand Park were the primary parks presented at the public forum. The city of Derby is working with PROS Consulting and Confluence to help conduct research and provide a layout of possible park additions.

Through surveys, assessments and feedback from the community, the team was able to form a layout for future parks. The city also allowed community members to add feedback at various events in Derby.

The city of Derby was interested in seeing the different types of features of value for the people of the community and established grids with various additions in parks. These grids were presented at a few events in Derby, and individuals could provide feedback by adding a green or red dot on different features displayed on the page. The master plan presented options for additions based on the input.

Hand Park showed the largest area of opportunity. The diagram of the park showed additions, including pickleball courts, zip line, restrooms and an adventure playground. English Park was the second park that included updates like a splash pad and a hammock grove.

High Park and Garrett Park are two Derby parks that hold a lot of activity, and several improvements were suggested. High Park is home to several events in Derby, including the Smoke on the Plains Festival. A food truck loop was suggested to help with the influx of options during events.

An amphitheater and possible update to the stage were also options.

A farmer’s market generated a lot of positive feedback on community surveys, so adding an area dedicated to it was suggested in High Park.

The Garrett Park additions included a re-sizing of a baseball field alongside an addition for another field and increased parking. The downside of the parking addition is that it would cut the size of the current soccer fields. In feedback from the community, there was an interest in creating mini courts, which are small-scale fields designed for younger kids. Pickleball courts were also suggested.

Despite the upcoming opening of the Sandbox, there were still several options for pickleball on the master plan. It will create a free option for pickleball which the staff believes will attract an audience.

There is one more public forum planned for late September with the goal of presenting the master plan to the City Council on Oct. 11.

Steering committee to give shape to DRC aquatic facility

In the feedback from the surveys and grids, there was positive interest in an aquatics center which has been a key topic in Derby.

Senior night for the Derby High School swim program looks a little different than most. Instead of taking in one final event at a home venue, the Panthers are forced to hold the event at Campus High School, nearly 20 minutes away. Between the boys and girls programs, Derby has claimed the last seven AVCTL-I titles in the pool. The high school isn’t the lone leader of the aquatics center debate, but it brings the conversation to light.

An Aquatic Steering Committee was created to begin the process of initial research on the possibility of an aquatics center in Derby. Director of Facilities Darcie Parkhurst presented an update on the committee and findings from its research at the Derby Recreation Commission Board Retreat on July 25.

Parkhurst shared that the current pool at the Derby Recreation Center was installed in 1994, but the increased activity, limited space and aging pool are becoming a dilemma for the DRC. The three largest demands of the pool revolve around competition, leisure and therapy needs. The DRC has been able to balance each demand but has begun a lengthy discussion on the future vision.

The Aquatic Steering Committee has a diverse representation of individuals ranging from the school district, swim coaches, and interested parents. Dating back to December of 2021, the committee has met three times to discuss the challenges of the current facility, desirable wants/needs of a facility and observed aquatic centers around Kansas.

Parkhurst and DRC Superintendent Chris Drum traveled to other aquatic centers to observe other facilities and met with the overseers to discuss the pros and cons of the center or what they would have done differently. The notable locations the team observed were the Shawnee Mission School District Aquatic Center, Lenexa Rec Center pool, and the Maize Performing Arts and Aquatic Center, which opened in 2021.

The next steps are crucial to getting the ball rolling for the aquatics center. The DRC has a proposal from Waters Edge Aquatic Design, the company that designed Rock River Rapids, to do a pool study. Drum said that this study is in place to create the vision and look at viable options.

It is a $25,000 proposal to conduct an aquatic center feasibility study. It is only the first phase of the project, but the DRC hopes to start exploratory discussions in this phase with the idea of developing diagrams and, ultimately, a cost projection. The rate of the proposal is good until the end of the year, so it will likely find its way on a DRC board agenda by the end of 2022.

There are still several hurdles to overcome with the project. Still, the widespread interest from the city, school district, DRC and community members is an encouraging sign for a long-term investment. Everyone involved sees the opportunity at hand and strives to get the ball rolling in the near future.

“We are in a position where all of these different voices can come together and hopefully start developing some long-term plans,” Drum said. “This is long-term, this is just the start and will be several years in the making, but we have to start somewhere.”