Development should pay for quality parks
The Eudora City Council set aside $40,000 in the 2003 budget to develop an eastside park. That decision wasn't made without some grumbling about spending money on a new park when the city's current green spaces are in need of upgrades and even attention to basic maintenance.
Such resentment is understandable. Park resources are always scarce. Longtime residents don't want to see limited available money steered to new parks. At a joint meeting of the City Council, Planning Commission and Parks and Recreation Commission last week, the consensus was that the current parkland enhancement program isn't achieving the desired results. The $200-per-lot parkland assessment hasn't proven enough to adequately finance new parks. Also, developers find it more advantageous to pay the assessment, rather than donate land for green space. As unfortunate as that is for the city, developers can't be blamed for doing what is best for them.
A fair assessment must be found that will create willingness among developers to donate attractive parkland, perhaps as a condition of a preliminary plat.
Parks are ultimately a good deal for developers. They make homes more attractive to new homeowners, who will ultimately pay for new parks through increased lot prices. At the risk of sounding greedy, the city should ask for a little more.
City residents as a whole will be asked to help with the expense of maintaining new parks. At the same time, new residents will likely enjoy the amenities offered at existing parks. Lot assessments above that needed for new parks should be seen as new homeowners buying shares in the city's existing assets.