The idea of a city-funded community and aquatic center in Prairie Village may have died.
At a work session Saturday, city council members discussed a number of important issues facing the city, including park maintenance, rental properties and the feasibility a proposed $44 million community and aquatic center. The council agreed that the city currently can not handle the financial burden of the center.
The project came from a feasibility study that looked into a community center and replacement options for the city’s 50-meter outdoor pool. No official vote was taken on the matter. City Administrator Quinn Bennion said the council would probably put the matter to an official vote some time in the next month.
Councilman David Belz said now that the study has shown how much the project would cost, he can’t recommend spending that much money.
“If money wasn’t an object, it would be a beautiful thing, but money is an object,” Belz said.
He said that with the city low on funds to maintain city infrastructure and other important obligations, he didn’t feel comfortable moving forward with the project.
Councilwoman Laura Wassmer said the feasibility study didn’t adequately account for parking. She said she was concerned that if Shawnee Mission East High School had an event on at the same time the aquatic center did residential streets would be flooded with cars.
Belz said another concern was that the center would benefit neighboring cities more. He said most people visiting the aquatic center for an event would probably stay in hotels and dine at restaurants in other cities.
Councilman Dale Warman said that while he agreed the project wasn’t practical for the city, it could be possible to find an outside party to fund the center.
Councilman Ted Odell also presented a plan to promote home ownership and improve residential properties in the city. He said he wants to evaluate rental license requirements and the inspection process, increase property maintenance standards and promote home ownership with incentives for first-time home buyers who buy properties that were previously rentals.
At Monday night’s council meeting, two Prairie Village residents were present to voice concerns about the community center. Charles Schollenberger asked the council if they were aware of how much neighboring cities like Mission and Overland Park paid for their community center and noted that the other community centers were much less than the proposed on for Prairie Village.
“I was astounded to hear the committee came back with a $44 million proposal,” Schollenberger said.
Mayor Ron Shaffer told Schollenberger that the council would not be moving forward with the project. Schollenberger then asked why a third party was not considered to help pay for the project. Shaffer said the city would support the idea of a third party funding the project.