Douglas County Public Works was recently awarded a federal grant to help with the cost of constructing an ADA-accessible viewing platform with shelter and an ADA-accessible picnic shelter at Wells Overlook Park, which is a few miles south of Lawrence along N1000 Road.
The Land & Water Conservation Fund grant will reimburse 50 percent of the eligible expenses, up to $44,790, and it is administered by the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks & Tourism. County Commissioners approved the project agreement during their Jan. 15 meeting.
The project includes:
- An ADA-accessible viewing platform with associated shelter to be located on the northern end of the park.
- An ADA-accessible picnic shelter to be located on the southern end of the parking lot.
- Removal of about one acre of volunteer trees to open up sight lines.
- Planting and establishing native prairie vegetation in the areas of cleared trees.
- Panoramic panels at the viewing platform depicting historical, cultural and ecological items of interest that can be viewed from the platform.
Douglas County Public Works will perform the site grading, tree removal, asphalt paving and concrete work. They will be working with students in the KU School of Architecture and Design’s Dirt Works Studio, who will be designing and constructing the viewing platform and associated shelter and the picnic shelter. Director of Dirt Works Studio is Architect Chad Kraus, an associate professor.
The viewing platform with shelter will be located at the northern curve of the park’s access road and is expected to be finished by the end of May. The picnic shelter will be located just south of the parking area and is expected to be finished by the end of December.
The effort was spearheaded by Ken Lassman, whose family donated the property for Wells Overlook. Lassman is working with Douglas County Heritage Coordinator Jan Shupert-Arick on developing panoramic panels for the viewing platform. Bob Mikesic, of Independence, Inc., and Ray Petty, of Great Plains ADA Center, assisted in plan development and are strong advocates for the improvements.
Cost of the project is estimated to be about $103,000, and work is expected to begin this month with tree removal. The entire project which includes planting and establishing native prairie vegetation will take about three years.