Parkville may be Platte County’s best hope as a centerpiece town for drawing and holding tourists from other states. That’s because the Missouri River is accessible there, the bluffs above the River bottoms are scenic and it’s within connecting distance of Weston, Riverside and the history locked places like the County’s Green Hills of Platte Wildlife Preserve.
For the past few years, I’ve been involved in conference planning for a national organization, the Outdoor Writers Association of America. The stops in recent years have included the Rocky Mountains outside of Salt Lake City, wild and rugged Alaska and in recent days the Adirondacks of upstate New York. Now, I love Platte County. Someone else who has traveled the world told me recently her favorite part of the trip is usually getting back to western Missouri. I’m about the same.
But I do think about tourism and conferences these days and I wonder how Platte County fits in. The City of Kansas City certainly chases conferences and tourists with a Convention and Visitors Association, but if that group extends any effort beyond south of the Missouri River, you can’t tell it from their Web page and I’ve never noticed it in news coverage. They do depend on the hotels along the Interstate 29 and Kansas City International Airport corridor for overflow bookings when a big convention settles into Downtown, but that doesn’t give Platte County much identity in the eyes of visitors.
We have a very rich Old West, Civil War and agrarian history. Portions of the County that haven’t been farmed to monoculture or developed like anyplace USA are pretty. But we’ve not set ourselves up to mine those attributes.
Perhaps the profits just haven’t been there to spur tourism investment by private entities. But then, too, we must make sure public enthusiasm and municipal support is ready should a developer bring the right project along.