Shelterhouse now available
Come rain or shine, the new shelterhouse at Chieftain Park gives visitors a place to take cover.
The 10-foot-wide asphalt trail along Main Street will connect with an already existing walking trail that circles Chieftain Park and then crosses First Street when it connects with the trail at Tonganoxie's VFW Memorial Park. The new trail will be built to the Americans with Disabilities Act specifications.
And Tonganoxie city administrator Mike Yanez is hoping construction will begin soon.
Earlier this year, Yanez said he thought the trail would be completed in October.
But he's waiting for the state of Kansas to approve a drainage permit.
"As soon as we get it, we're ready to go out for bid," Yanez said recently.
He said he expects construction to take about three months. The project's cost is estimated at $432,000, of which a state grant will fund 80 percent and the city will pick up the rest.
"People are flocking to it," said Tonganoxie Recreation Commission director Gayle Parker.
The shelterhouse includes two barbecue grills and four installed picnic tables, one of which is handicapped accessible.
It was built this summer for about $28,000, with Tonganoxie builder Jim McCaffrey leading the construction project.
The park includes three soccer fields, two sand volleyball courts, four horseshoe pits, six basketball goals, two tennis courts, a walking trail with exercise stations, restrooms that are open year round and a playground.
"We just thought we had all those amenities, but there was really nothing for people to gather at to have a picnic," Parker said. "There was no place for a small gathering. The VFW has that in their park, but there was nothing in our park."
The new shelterhouse is near the soccer fields, restrooms and playground.
"If there are little ones (children), they can sit right there and watch them in the playground, so it was a good fit," Parker said.
And, Parker said, the structure is roomy enough that people can bring lawn chairs to set around the edges.
Because of the shelter's popularity, Parker advises people who plan gatherings there to make reservations by calling TRC at (913) 845-3502.
There is no charge to use the facility.
Parker said the shelterhouse completes plans for additions to the park.
"All of our usable space is used up," Parker said. "We don't want to clutter it ... we'd like to leave a little unbroken green area."