Leadership Overland Park Session 9 – Quality of Life Day

Posted on Monday, June 18th, 2012 by
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This was our last full day session of Leadership Overland Park, and it was just as informative as the others have been. The quality of life here is a culmination of all the previous topics we’ve learned about and is one of those assets that truly sets our community apart. We started the day at the Overland Park Arboretum, which to me, is another great amenity here in Overland Park. It is a wonderful example of nature. From the trails through the forests to the bird watching opportunities to the displays of art (both controversial and not) scattered throughout the grounds; this is a great facility to spend some time with nature. I know my family has gone there a number of times and always enjoyed the experience. Also of interest is the recent art provided by students from the Kansas City Art Institute. What a great way to include others from outside OP and bring their special talents to life throughout these gardens.

Our next stop was at the Overland Park Soccer Complex. Soccer played a very large role in my younger days and I’ve travelled all over and played at many different complexes. But I never was able to play at a complex quite like the one Overland Park built in 2009. This place is state of the art for youth sports and with the synthetic fields and heated waterlines under the turf, the fields can be played on year round and in most weather conditions. When you’re driving in the snow along 135th Street and see a bunch of green soccer fields ready for use, it certainly gets your attention. This complex has also been noticed by those outside our community as it continues to host numerous tournaments and was recently informed it will host the youth national championships in 2013 for the second time in four years. And because it is always packed with a full slate of games it has also been a boom to the local hotel and restaurant industries. Other speakers we heard from that morning included Johnson County Director of Parks and Recreation Mike Meadors and also the Director of Overland Park Recreation Services Tony Cosby. They discussed the many trails, parks and swimming pools in this community. My 7-year-old son and I are huge fans of the trail system. For the past three years it is common for us to head out on a Saturday morning for a long bike ride along the trails of Johnson County.

Now I am by no means an expert on art, but I will admit I enjoyed our trip to the Nermann Museum of Contemporary Art at Johnson County Community College. What a great facility. We did an educational compare/contrast exercise of two pieces of art. One was a photograph of the Yale soccer team spitting an arc of blue Gatorade at each other and the other was a painting of a group of women doing surgery on another woman. It was an enjoyable experience and something I wouldn’t have done on my own. We didn’t see the whole museum but my sense is that it is not huge, so it would be easy to spend a few hours and see some interesting art in a museum setting without having to go downtown. That evening I discussed it with my wife who was looking for something fun to do with our kids so the next day she took them to the museum to check it out. Guys spitting Gatorade at each other was well received in my house.

We ended the day with Chamber President Tracey Osborne; she talked us through the results of the Johnson County Community Scan, which was a statistically valid survey of JoCo voters that covered a wide range of topics related to life here in Johnson County. The survey included questions about voters opinions of our school systems, how our taxes are spent, etc. It was all great information and is reflective on how our current state legislature isn’t doing a tremendous job at listening to the voices of their constituents. You can see more details about the survey here: http://www.opks.org/general.asp?id=191.

Our last class is a half-day closing session to review the entire program on Tuesday, June 19th.


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