Warren Riverview Park

Planning Commission approved a site plan last week that allows Derby to go ahead on Warren Riverview Park, which will nestle against the east bank of the Arkansas River between Market Street and Washington Avenue.

The site approved for the park once held the Public Works facility – which has since relocated to 55th Street – and a wastewater treatment plant before that. Van Willis, the newest commissioner on the board, expressed concerns about the environment on the grounds.

“Considering the previous use of this property, there may be some EPA issues that may be of concern,” he said. “It’s going to be a public venue, there’s going to be a lot of excavation, there have been a lot of vehicles in and out of there.”

Robert Mendoza, director of public works for the City of Derby, said his team has worked closely with the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) to make sure leftover chemicals and materials are not a problem.

Mendoza said KDHE has been part of the process “since day one.” He said they did find remnants of salt – where the city’s supply once sat – and diesel fuel. Mendoza said the only issue is the salt, which should be taken care of with construction excavation.

“We had literally a thousand tons of salt sitting on the same piece of ground for 60 years,” he said. “We have gone totally with the state as an ongoing partner. … We are working through this step-by-step.”

Other issues were brought up by the commission, including possibly increasing the number of handicap parking spots, the location of the parking lot and protecting the park’s infrastructure from high tides on the river.

The park will have stairs and an ADA-accessible ramp leading down to the bank of the river, where park-goers can load into canoes. Commissioner Paula Langworthy expressed concern about the materials used to make sure the river didn’t take it away.

But Mendoza gave his vote of confidence in his team of about 30 who have worked on many variations of the park.

“This park went through about a year’s design process with a team of about 30 people,” he said. “This is a compilation of a lot of ideas, a lot of discussion and a lot of thought.”

The park will offer an event center at the only building on the site, dubbed “The Lodge.” Restrooms would also be offered on-site, but would be located off of the lodge with access available from the outside.

Nick Staib, an agent from WMD Architecture, said this way, restrooms will always be open for park-goers even when the building is locked up.

The park is built as an adventure park geared toward slightly older children. Boulders and a ropes course will be all around the park as well as an ADA-accessible playground. 

Warren Riverview Park is the second in a string of larger community parks the city has planned. Madison Avenue Central Park is under construction now on Madison Avenue and will fully open early 2016. 

Decarsky Park, which is planned for 2017, will be located at the south end of Derby and offer a baseball complex with multiple fields. Planning for Decarsky will begin in 2016.

The site plan review is one of the final stages of planning before construction can start on Warren Riverview Park. City Planner Cody Bird said he hasn’t been as involved in the planning of the park itself, but he’s still anticipating the development on the city’s west end.

“I can tell you from what I have been involved in from looking at the plans, I’m excited to see it happen,” he said.