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DE SOTO, Kan. — Plans are in the works to create future trails and community spaces on the former Sunflower Army Ammunition Plant in De Soto.

During a special meeting Monday, the Johnson County Board of Park and Recreation Commissioners unanimously approved an addendum to a real estate agreement for a portion of land on the former ammunition plant property. 

In 2005 the Johnson County Park and Recreation District (JCPRD) entered into a real estate agreement with Sunflower Redevelopment for the transfer of approximately 2,000 acres of land to the park district. That year JCPRD received roughly 130 acres along Kill Creek on the eastern edge of the ammunition plant. 

The city of De Soto recently annexed roughly 6,009 acres of the former Sunflower site which impacts future JCPRD land. The addendum will provide a waiver for roughly 1,351 acres that will be rezoned for industrial use.

“The Ocean Project, as it’s been called locally, which is the bringing of Panasonic to De Soto has spurred activity in that corner of our county,” Bill Maasen, superintendent of parks and golf courses for JCPRD, said.

“JCPRD did reach out to Sunflower Redevelopment about let’s expedite some transactions here so we can be prepared for green space for our community as it grows in that part of the county.”

Under the addendum, JCPRD will waive its 90-day notice requirement for rezoning to allow for a second transfer of land from Sunflower. This will allow for the transfer of 265 acres to JCPRD by June 30, 2023.

That transfer will facilitate the completion of the planned expansion of the Kill Creek Streamway Park. 

Land to be transferred to JCPRD shown in yellow. The red line shows existing, unconnected trails.

Maasen said while the department will receive the full acreage, it’s unclear where the final JCPRD boundary will be on the site, because of the need to build out roads and other forms of infrastructure to support the development.

“We knew that something could happen [that would require us] to adjust. What we didn’t want is to be a block to future development. When we formulated the agreement, we wanted to be flexible to the developer and to the community so that it could be viable,” Maasen said. 

While clean up efforts at the former ammunition site are ongoing, the property must be cleaned to residential standards before the transfer can take place.  

“Sunflower Redevelopment, in accordance with an agreement with the county and its agreement with the federal government, cannot transfer this land to JCPRD until it is clean,”Maasen said.  

If the land transfer is completed next June, JCPRD will then have access to roughly 400 of the 2,000 acres it is contractually owed.