Bill in Congress would end Lake Afton Park restriction

A bill in the U.S. Congress would remove a federal restriction on land at Lake Afton Park.

Money from a 1966 federal grant to build a bathroom at the park restricts the property’s uses.

The restriction played a big role in county discussions about the ultimate fate of Judge Riddel Boys Ranch, the former youth residential center on the shores of Lake Afton. Commissioners decided on a split vote to demolish the property and convert it back to park land.

The acceptance of the grant about 50 years ago prevents the sale of the property and limits its use to either parkland or a county-run youth residential facility.

Rep. Ron Estes, the Fourth District Congressman who introduced the bill, said in a statement the restriction was a “great example of red tape sitting on the books in Washington for far too long.”

“I strongly support removing federal land-use restrictions in order to allow our local governments in Kansas the ability to plan for, and to encourage, new development that will benefit our community,” he added.

Commissioners have pushed Congress to end the Lake Afton Park restriction and a similar restriction at Northeast Sedgwick County Park, a less-developed park on about 650 acres near 77th Street North and 127th Street East.

“This will allow us to regain complete control of the Lake Afton property from the federal government,” said Commissioner Richard Ranzau, who opposed demolishing the boys ranch.

Daniel Salazar: 316-269-6791, @imdanielsalazar