In the wake of a lengthy Parkville Board of Aldermen and Community Land and Recreation Board (CLARB) meeting last week on Platte Landing Park, County officials have responded to allegations from members of the Board that they are not prepared to deliver as promised. Though the details and timeline on aspects of the project may have changed, the intent to build a park that would be an asset to the community remains, according to County officials.
“The County’s commitment is the same as it’s always been,” PlatteCountyParks and Recreation Director Brian Nowotny said. “The 2011 memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the City and County spelled out the agreement, and the County has done everything in its plan that is in that MOU.”
On July 16, both boards were asked if the City should move ahead with phase one of park development, or possibly abandon the project altogether. While CLARB voted 6-2 to move ahead, the Board of Aldermen voted unanimously to go forward, minus absent alderman Chris Fisher.
Mayor Jim Brooks told the Board the plans presented to the City and the public last year — which included a plaza, boardwalk and even an amphitheater — were for the most part no longer feasible. Engineering design contractor HDR Engineering was removed from the project about two months ago, after delivering plans that Brooks characterized as “an insult to the taxpayers.”
“They were completely — nearly completely — engineered plans for something that nobody had ever really talked about,” he said.
About six weeks ago, the County terminated the contract with HDR and hired planning and design firm Vireo, as well as subcontractor CDM Smith, to take over the project.
Brooks said he was pleased with the new firm, who had taken over at a late date to make the project workable.
“How it sat and festered in the hands of the other guys for eight, nine, 10 months, I have no clue,” Brooks said.
Nowotny shed some additional light on that situation this week, saying the County felt Vireo and CDM Smith — a contractor that often works for the Army Corps of Engineers — would provide the best opportunity for completion of the project. The two-person design team that the County hired at HDR Engineering had left the company since the start of the project, Nowotny said, and this had made all the difference in the design.
“When the County hires a company, we’re not really hiring just the company’s name as much as we’re hiring a specific design team within the company and their resume,” Nowotny said.
It is a stipulation that 1st District Commissioner Beverlee Roper said is in place with the new contractor and hopes the County and City can now move ahead with the project.