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South Kansas City Golf Course's Proposal To Expand Into Blue River Parkway Trails System Met With Resistance

061620_blue River bike trail_Echlin.jpg
Pete Barth
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The Jigsaw area of the Blue River Parkway trails is used by hikers and mountain bicyclists.

Oakwood Country Club wants to build a driving range in a part of Jackson County where mountain bikers and hikers like to recreate.

The Oakwood Country Club in Kansas City, Missouri, has hit a nerve with a proposed expansion plan, angering outdoor enthusiasts and users of the nearby Blue River Parkway trails.

A new ownership group at Oakwood, the oldest golf club in Jackson County which sits near U.S. Highway 71 between Bannister Road and I-435, say they want to freshen things up for a membership that totals around 300.

Part of the renovation project involves the proposed purchase of land from Jackson County on the west end of the club to build a driving range. The desired acreage is currently part of the 25-mile Blue River Parkway Trails system, which is particularly popular among local mountain bikers.

The plan has been met with stiff opposition from area residents and trail users.

Sarah Hemme says she moved from the Brookside area of Kansas City with her husband, Cameron, within the last couple years to the south part of the city to get better access to the trails.

“We intentionally chose south Kansas City, this particular neighborhood off of Blue River Road, because we wanted to be able to walk out our front door and hit the trails,” Hemme told KCUR.

Other residents around the Blue Valley Parkway trails regard the area as an outdoor sanctuary that should remain untouched, and they have been voicing their displeasure on the trails' Facebook page.

That has gotten the attention of county lawmakers.

“It is profoundly evident that there is way more pushback than ever to the intention of anybody wanting to do that,” said Jackson County legislator Crystal Williams.

Ken Block, a member of Oakwood and the club's ownership group, said he remains hopeful the expansion can continue. He says the club plans to meet with Kansas City’s Heartland Conservation Alliance later this week.

One of the Alliance's missions, according to its website, is to “proactively conserve, protect and restore natural lands and open space within the Kansas City region."

“I think the purpose of the meeting is to bring everybody together and talk about the situation and, hopefully, see if there’s some kind of potential resolution of some sort,” said Block.

Williams said at least two county lawmakers plan to go to that meeting, but she will vote no if the proposal comes before the county legislature.

“The issue is that there’s been work done around it and it is used. It’s public land,” she said.

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