Archive for Wednesday, March 8, 2006

More park land would be an asset

March 8, 2006

I tried to help the city.

I bought $8 worth of lottery tickets.

If that makes me a gambler, so be it.

The Powerball jackpot was in the $300 millions and I had my plans.

When jackpots get large, it's easy to think of where we would plunk the winnings. Of course there are the usual thoughts -- family, retirement savings and churches, which I, too, would consider. But on my mind was yet another idea.

Had I learned, on Saturday night a couple weeks ago, that I had won the Powerball sweepstakes, the first thing I would have done would have been to purchase the old ice cream plant (also known as the old paint factory), near VFW Park on County Road 5. Then I would have bought the adjacent vacant property to the north and given it all to the city of Tonganoxie, with necessary improvements made on both parcels, and a footbridge to connect the new addition to the existing park.

That may sound a little far-fetched. But, in my humble opinion, that land should be an extension of Chieftain Park.

And appropriately, with a bit of historical significance built in, that side of the park also would stretch to the south side of U.S. 24-40, not far from where Chief Tonganoxie's lodge once stood.

According to Walter Lee Denholm, who took me on a Tonganoxie-historical walk a few years back, the two-story frame building where Chief Tonganoxie lived was just north of the highway -- not far from the park that bears his name today.

Chief Ton--ganoxie, as he was called, was a Dela--ware Indian who lived here in the early- to mid-1800s in a two-story frame house built by the government. The lodge that Tonganoxie operated, served as a stopping place for travelers. It was near the trail from Leavenworth to Lawrence. This was during the time that this part of Kansas belonged to the Delaware Indian tribe.

By the 1860s, the Delaware, including Chief Tonganoxie, moved south. Many of the tribal members settled in what is now Oklahoma. It's been said that Chief Tonganoxie died in southeast Kansas, and that his body was brought back to Leavenworth County for burial. He is said to be buried near Bonner Springs where graveside markers indicate where the remains of Chief Tonganoxie, his wife and sister, rest.

While knowing about our city's past, including the man for whom it was named, is important, equally important is the consideration of our city's future.

In recent years the city of Tonganoxie, the Tonganoxie Recreation Commission and members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post No. 9279, with the help of various other community volunteers, have established a system of parks that would be an asset to any city. That will be further enhanced when the city's walking trail, from downtown to Chieftain Park, is completed this fall.

Now would be the time to consider adding to the park system that is in place. And in my opinion, the owners of the properties mentioned should be paid what they consider to be a fair price.

The land I'd like the city to purchase and bring into our park system currently is zoned for moderate industrial use. It also would be eligible for consideration of rezoning to commercial use, said Kathy Bard, Tonganoxie's assistant city administrator.

In other words, it's not unreasonable to think the city could end up with -- instead of a playground, soccer field or walking trail on that property -- a couple of golden arches -- or just about any other business that could afford to set up shop on the land.

While I have nothing against a Big Mac, an addition to our city's park system would be of far more benefit to the people who live in the Tonganoxie area.

In the meantime, when the jackpot gets high, I might fork over for a couple more lottery tickets.

After all, you never know, we just might get lucky.

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