Blue Springs voters approve sales tax, plans for aquatic center, new parks in place

By Mike Genet
The Examiner

Blue Springs voters decided Tuesday to permanently renew the half-cent sales tax for parks.

The sales tax, first approved for 2017, would have expired in September 2022. Now it has no sunset.

City officials plan to use funds for continued park rehabilitations, developing at least one new park on the city’s south end and building an aquatic center next to the Fieldhouse.

“We’re just elated that the people of Blue Springs saw fit to renew the tax in advance of its expiration,” Mayor Carson Ross said. “The people trusted us when they passed the first one. It's been promises made, promises kept, and we have a lot to show for it.” 

The tax is estimated to generate about $15 million through 2022 and has funded significant improvements at several parks, including replaced playgrounds and courts and also the first splash pad, at Burrus Old Mill Park.

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Consultants have estimated a new aquatic center would cost about $22 million, though the city would save on administrative costs by having it adjacent to the Fieldhouse. That facility became a priority particularly after the city a couple years ago transferred ownership of Centennial Pool-Plex, adjacent to Blue Springs High School s, to the school district. The district plans to close the outdoor pool portion rather than renovate it, and it also bought the former YMCA building adjacent to Blue Springs South High School. 

The first new park would be Southwest Park, on 50 acres near the Wyatt Road dead-end east of Missouri 7, abutting the Bridger Urban Conservation Area. Consultants have suggested trails and an events barn that could generate revenue.

The second new park would be Roscoe Righter Park, on 75 acres next to Mason Elementary off Colbern Road, between Missouri 7 and Shrout Road.

City officials decided to seek permanent renewal so that projected revenues would make the large projects more feasible. 

“With the COVID situation, people are using our parks more,” Ross said. “With the future and the aquatic center coming, those are quality-of-life issues.”