APPENDIX TO RESOLUTION NO. 2015-05 Statement by Board Member Michael Pirner September 23, 2015 One not need to have been a resident for Johnson County for very long to understand the positive impact the Johnson County Park & Recreation District has on our community. In my particular case, having been a Johnson County resident my entire life, I have personally witnessed how intertwined our award-winning Park & Recreation District is with the people of Johnson County and how that relationship has strengthened over the 60 years of JCPRD’s existence. In short, the residents of Johnson County have come to expect a healthy park district, and with the tax dollars they dedicate towards it, that expectation is certainly reasonable - and it is the responsibility of JCPRD to preserve that proud tradition of quality parks and recreation. It is for those reasons that the master plan is aptly named “The Legacy Plan” - for, in my view, it achieves its core goal – “to provide a framework for JCPRD to continue that legacy forward.” It is because the Legacy Plan achieves that core goal that I felt comfortable in voting to approve the plan at our regular board meeting in August of 2015. The Legacy Plan is largely comprised of sensible near-term recommendations on how to preserve our current parks and how to develop and open new parks in the future. Within each section, the priorities it outlines are sensible and appropriate – maintenance of our new parks first, followed by an emphasis on development of our Streamway Trail System, and then the opening of new parks and possibly new facilities. These recommendations make up the bulk of the plan – up to page 183. However, though I felt comfortable in providing my vote for the overall plan due to the aforementioned recommendations, I did have significant reservations to the size and scope of the plan as outlined in the funding sections on pages 184 and thereafter. In addition, I have specific thoughts that I believe future parks boards should keep in mind as they consider how to manage and grow our wonderful park system. I will describe these thoughts in more detail below, and it is my hope that current and future parks boards and county commissions seriously consider these viewpoints. Most of my reservations are focused specifically on the level of spending and increased taxation that is recommended to “fully fund” the plan – nearly $100 million in additional tax dollars beyond the increase which was just approved. This would necessitate a further increase in our mill levy and a 60% increase in JCPRD’s budget from where we were just this year. I do not believe the citizens of Johnson County are demanding the level of growth as envisioned by this level of funding, nor do I believe they have indicated they support the tax increases that would be necessary to implement it. While I have no objection to “master planning” up to the current funding levels and perhaps a modest amount beyond that, I believe that the additional $100 million envisioned to fully fund the Legacy Plan was a reach and bordered on irresponsible. Digging deeper into where that additional $100 million is recommended to be allocated, most of it is dedicated towards the development of large “regional” parks, such as at Big Bull Creek and Cedar Niles. It has long been my contention that JCPRD can have a vibrant, healthy, well-maintained park system that meets and exceeds the expectation of the public without the massive growth as envisioned by the creation of additional large new “regional” parks. While I do believe it is sensible and appropriate to explore small and modest openings to these parks, I do not feel there is any evidence to suggest that the public is demanding that these new parks be opened to the degree that the Legacy Plan envisions with the level of funding outlined. If anything, the
Appendix Page 1 of 4
Appendix to the Legacy Plan approved by the Board of Park and Recreation Commissioners on behalf of the citizens of Johnson County, KS.