The parks department is making canoes, stand-up paddleboards and bicycles available for free use on its 5-mile bike trail and 22-acre lake at Legacy Park.
The Lee’s Summit Parks & Recreation department on Tuesday unveiled the new program at a ribbon-cutting ceremony at Legacy Park Community Center, 901 N.E. Bluestem Drive, Lee’s Summit.
The department had earlier been renting the canoes and paddleboards.
It is able to add bicycles to the mix because of a donation by Bike Stop, owned by Todd Pennington.
Pennington said planning for the bicycles began last July when former parks administrator Tom Lovell approached him about supplying bikes for use in Legacy Park. The parks department had been researching a bike-share program provided by another company, which wanted $12,000 a year for the service. Lovell thought that was excessive. Pennington agreed and began looking at ideas for a local program.
Pennington chose low maintenance three-speed bicycles with internal gears and persuaded one of his suppliers, Giant, to offer a price break for the parks project.
“We tried to take the maintenance thing out of it as much as possible,” Pennington said. “Nobody will be out of a whole lot of money in this deal and it will be a cool little program.”
He’s donating 10 bicycles, three with trailer hitches and trailers for hauling toddlers, and a trail-a-bike, which allows children ages about 5 to 10 to ride with adults. Pennington said he will provide maintenance. He expects the bikes’ lifespan to be about 10 years.
Andrea Dickson and her family were at a ribbon-cutting Tuesday to use the bikes. She said they had didn’t have enough bicycles at home for the entire family to ride together. and they were looking forward to riding around the park’s paved trail. “We always wanted to try it out,” Dickson said. “We’re happy we can do it today. This is a great idea.”
Bike Stop also is partnering with the parks department for the annual Tour de Lakes ride on June 24, the new Trick-a-Bike ride for kids in October, as well as the annual Night Flight 5K on June 9.
Jodi Bell, manager of the community center, said that the department began renting out canoes four years ago and paddleboards three years ago.
While the number of rentals had been increasing, she said, the park board and staff decided to make their use free. The rentals in previous years already had paid for the watercraft, Bell said.
The department will provide life jackets, but users should bring their own helmets for bicycling. Helmets aren’t required but are strongly encouraged, Bell said.
For the first-time use, patrons will need to have identification entered into the park department’s system and their photograph taken, but there is no charge. There is no residency requirement. Afterward they’ll call the community center at 816-969-1550 to reserve a two-hour time slot.
“No money will exchange hands, it’s just the patrons calling in and reserving their time,” Bell said. “We’re excited to get them out there.”