Not only will visitors get some great views of the lake and the park, but on clear days they may even be able to see some more distant landmarks once a new Observation Tower being built in Kill Creek Park is complete.
JCPRD officials anticipated issuing a notice to proceed with construction of the project during the first week of November, with completion tentatively expected in summer 2019. The successful bidder on the project is Loyd Builders Inc. of Ottawa, which was selected from among eight bidders for the $1.5 million contract.
The architectural style of the tower is probably its most unique feature, according to Project Manager Bill Leek.
“It will be structural steel with a precast concrete elevator shaft to provide access to the top level,” Leek explained. “The top observation deck level will be 44 feet 7 inches, and the full height of the tower will be 58 feet. It will have heavy-duty galvanized steel screening around it. You can see through it a little bit, and there will be occasional openings that people can look through. There will actually be four levels that the elevator can stop at, including the top level.”
The tower, which will also have stairs to the top, has been in planning for nearly two years, and will be located just east of where the house previously stood in the park.
“From that location, they’ll be able to see a long way out, and you’ll be able to see the lake (at Kill Creek Park), different parts of the remnant prairie, and the park,” Leek said. “They’ll have a view that is approximately 270-degrees from southeasterly all the way around the west and then back to the north and northeasterly a little bit.”
He added that when conditions are right, visitors may even be able to see buildings on the hill of the University of Kansas’ campus in Lawrence, and the Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Kansas.
The tower project will also include a driveway and parking area immediately north of the tower, a water fountain, benches, and connecting walkways.
“We will also be building some new trail extensions to connect this tower to existing trails to the west, including the trail that goes over to the virgin prairie,” Leek said.
At least 30 days before the observation tower opens to the public, staff anticipates recommending that the Johnson County Board of Park and Recreation Commissioners consider naming the new structure the Russell and Helen Means Observation Tower. This would honor the original landowners of Kill Creek Property who donated 355 acres of the 640 acre property, provided an installment purchase agreement for the acquisition of the remaining 285 acres, and willed assets now valued at approximately $1 million from their estate for improvements at the Kill Creek Park property which benefit the public. That funding is being used towards the observation tower.
Kill Creek Park
is located at 11670 Homestead Lane, Olathe.