In the coming months, Douglas County Parks and Recreation officials hope to iron out what may become a much larger and expanded Johnson Lane Park.
An informational meeting last month, attended by more than 30 residents, gave parks and recreation officials resounding support for expanding the 20-acre park to 80 acres, using adjacent Bureau of Land Management property.
"There is strong support for this. We think it can be done," said Scott Morgan, community services director for Douglas County.
Using one-time funding from taxes collected on new homes built in the county, the hope is to secure enough money to phase in expansion and park improvements. A full-fledged park would take 20 years to build over the course of several phases, which would cost between $3 million and $4 million, Morgan said.
The addition would include access to pedestrian and equestrian trails, ball fields and picnic tables. Also, residents at the public meeting last month asked that flood control measures be addressed in the park plan, Morgan said. First, however, the department must gain approval from its own parks and recreation commission, county commissioners and the BLM.
The BLM property, which Morgan described as having a "natural finger" that would connect to the park, is ideal for an expansion. "If the county didn't act on this, it would be property the BLM would consider disposing of for residential or another use in the area," Morgan said.
For the county to acquire the land, it must first agree to lease it from the BLM. The agreement would call for the county to do on-site improvements. Once improvements are made, the county would retain ownership of the land. Park officials plan to bring the proposal to the table in September. Morgan anticipates at least two public meetings before the plan goes before county commissioners.