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Archive for Friday, May 1, 1998

SUNFLOWER PLANT PLAN EXCLUDES THEME PARK

May 1, 1998

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— A comprehensive plan for the 9,065-acre Sunflower Army Ammunition Plant was unveiled Thursday to Johnson County officials.

A long-range conceptual plan unveiled Thursday for redeveloping the Sunflower Army Ammunition Plant seems to have everything in it but a yellow brick road leading to a Land of Oz theme park.

The plan cuts up the 9,065-acre park into a rainbow of land uses. The ``community in a park'' design includes light industrial, residential and business uses.

It calls for a 600-acre town center, 2,200 acres of single-family homes, 250 acres of multifamily homes and 3,450 acres set aside for parks.

The plan was explained Thursday morning in Olathe at a study session before the Johnson County board of commissioners.

Johnson County officials have put the plan together during the last 90 days as a way to ensure the area is developed in an orderly fashion.

They hope to present it to the U.S. General Services Administration, which will transfer the Sunflower site to public and private hands on behalf of the Army in the next few months.

The Sunflower plant was built during World War II for the production of propellant. The federal government will clean the facility of asbestos and other hazardous material and take suggestions from public bodies and individuals for the use of the land.

Officials presenting the plan remarked several times at the size of the 14-square mile site.

``We're dealing with something the size of Leawood,'' said Roger Kroh, Johnson County's director of planning and codes.

David Wysong, commission chairman, said the plan would next go to Johnson County's planning commission in 60 days.

``Our biggest challenge is to coordinate with all the entities,'' Wysong said.

Dean Palos, the county's principal planner, said the plan would cover the next 40 to 50 years.

Palos said the plan envisions an area where people can live and work and enjoy parks -- and go almost everywhere on pedestrian and bicycle paths.

The ``community in a park'' design uses green space and park land to separate different land uses on the site. It also takes advantage of existing topography, which is partially wooded and partially floodplain.

The site is built around a prominent 600-acre town center. The town center would include schools, churches, government offices, medical facilities and typical downtown retail and small office establishments.

Palos said the 2,200 acres set aside for single-family homes could accommodate an estimate 23,000 people. And the 250-acres for multifamily development could accommodate between 3,500 and 4,000 people.

The plan also includes:

  • A 1,400-acre business center that includes mixed office, research and development and technology-oriented businesses. It would be mainly on the north boundary, which has the primary road access to Kansas Highway 10.
  • A 250-acre highway commercial area that would have automobile-oriented retail, hotels and other services.
  • A 400-acre light manufacturing area that would be for low-intensity industrial use. It would be near the center of the development and would use existing facilities, such as the water treatment plant and sewage plant. The area would be for industries related to high technology, such as computer chip manufacturing.
  • And 450 acres for Kansas State University for agricultural research.

Several commissioners praised the plan.

``It's one of the best ones I've seen,'' said Commissioner Johnna Harris-Lingle.

``I'm very excited about it,'' said Commissioner George Gross.

Wysong said the plan will ``change possibly dramatically as time goes on.''

There have been suggestions that a Land of Oz theme park be built at Sunflower as an alternative to another site that is also being considered by developers in Wyandotte County.

``We did not look at this in terms of the Oz structure, but looked at how this might develop on its own without Oz,'' Palos said.

However, he said if the Oz developers want to develop at the site, ``we think they could work compatibly.''

-- Dave Toplikar's phone message number is 832-7151. His e-mail address is dtoplikar@ljworld.com.

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