This is the Prairie Village City Council meeting recap for Monday, February 3, 2020. You can see the full agenda and board packet HERE.
Council members present at roll call: Herring, J. Nelson, Selders, R. Nelson, Poling, Limbird, Reimer, Runion, McFadden, Graves, and Gallagher.
Here are the highlights of this meeting:
Wassmer Park Demonstration Garden
Dennis Patton, Master Gardener and Horticultural Agent for the K-State Research and Extension, gave a presentation to Council on the plantings at Wassmer Park, the Master Gardener program, and future demonstrations.
He also introduced the two Prairie Village residents serving as Co-Chairs for the Wassmer Park Garden, Deb Nixon and Ann Graham (I think that’s what he said). There will be about 75 volunteers descending on the gardens each Monday to work, then they will go away and return the next week so residents and visitors can enjoy the garden uninterrupted.
The garden will be filled with local recommended flora and year-round blooms or foliage with the idea being that you can see what these species look like and get ideas for your own garden.
For more information on the Master Gardener program, click HERE.
Courtney McFadden, Ward 5, shared that the VillageFest committee had their first meeting to begin planning the 2020 event, and they are looking for volunteers! It takes many, many volunteers to have a successful Independence Day event, and they need YOUR help – even just a shift or two. Contact Courtney at email@example.com to get involved!
Text in italics are my personal comments to these report items.
- The final Community Skate Park Design workshop is complete, and NewLine Stake Park designers are finalizing the construction documents. More details about construction schedule will follow.
- Mayor, Staff, and many members of Council attended the NEJC Chamber of Commerce State of the Cities luncheon where we heard 5-minute sound bites from each of the 10 Northeast JoCo cities on the year in review and the year to come. The common theme from all the speakers was “cooperation”. All of our cities work together locally to plan projects, share information, brainstorm, and make our cities wonderful places to live.
- The Growing Days store, by HGTV star and local resident Tamara Day, officially opened with a ribbon cutting attended by Mayor, Councilmember McFadden, and more.
- Mayor and Staff attended a tour of the Highlands Elementary Early Learning Center with Representative Sharice Davids.
- Coffee with a Cop had a good turn out last week despite the weather.
- Representative Davids hosted a Mayoral Round-table to learn how she can best serve our cities in Congress.
- Mayor attended two D.A.R.E. graduations at local SMSD schools where the program is facilitated by the Prairie Village Police Department.
- Mayor and City Administrator, Wes Jordan, are meeting with First Washington Realty on Wednesday, February 5th to hear early ideas on the Macy’s property.
- Council and Staff will have a work session on Saturday, February 15th at Meadowbrook Park Clubhouse.
- The City will be hosting a blood drive in coordination with the SevenDays event later this month. More info to follow.
- Crime in Prairie Village is at a 5-year low. Check out the data report at the end of the Council packet (pgs. 53-55).
Lisa Santa Maria, Finance Director, informed Council that, in addition to the reporting award announced last meeting, the City has received a second GFOA Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting for 2018. This time for the “Popular” Financial Report, which is a layman’s version of the “Comprehensive” Report.
Jamie Robichaud, Deputy City Administrator, informed Council that the City had submitted testimony in opposition of Senate Bill 294. This Bill would further limit our home rule and is in direct opposition of our 2020 Legislative Platform. The hearing was originally scheduled for Wednesday, but has been postponed for the Chiefs Parade.
Wes Jordan, City Administrator, announced that City offices WILL be open on Chiefs Parade Day.
Councilmember Ron Nelson, Ward 2, made a motion to retain the services of Dr. Stuart J. Little of Little Government Relations (who presented at our January 21st meeting) to lobby for the City of Prairie Village in Topeka for the remainder of the calendar year. Dr. Little will provide weekly updates during the legislative session, and monthly updates between sessions. The cost of the service is $10,000 from the General Fund Reserves, and before continuing on with services in futures years, Council and Staff will evaluate the services provided in 2020 and how it fits in the overall budget for 2021.
I voted for this motion, because, while our local legislators serving Prairie Village are of the same philosophy on most our Legislative Platform issues, not all legislators voting on these issues are from Prairie Village. Nor do the organizations we are members of, such as the League of Kansas Municipalities, always align with us. (Wes Jordan provided an example where LKM remained neutral on an issue important to PV.)
All the legislators across Kansas need to be talked with on these issues. Having “boots on the streets” in Topeka on the daily is also important to give Council and Staff time to respond. Often testimony is requested and cities are given less than 48 hours to write testimony and/or make plans to attend the hearings to testify in person. Ultimately, this service will take a significant burden off of our staff and allow us to be more proactive than reactive on state legislative conversations.
The motion passed. Dr. Little plans to attend the next Council Meeting to present a legislative update.
Discussion of Repeal of Breed Specific Legislation (BSL)
This discussion was passed out of the Council Committee of the Whole at our January 21st meeting, and brought to City Council on February 3rd as a motion “to approve the proposed amendment to Ordinance 2-105 to Repeal the Prohibition of Keeping Pit Bull Dogs in the City of Prairie Village, Kansas”.
City Staff worked with the City Attorney to draft an ordinance to repeal the language specific to pit bulls or pit bull-like breeds, essentially deleting Section 2-105. Section 2-105 was reserved for future use*.
I have been silent on social media on this topic, other than to encourage residents to reach out to me with their thoughts on the agenda items as I do for every Council meeting, and my silence was purposeful.
To project my views of the issue before Council had even heard the motion would be to silence a large number of people who view it differently and may not want to reach out to me if we disagree. So I stayed neutral online. If I was lucky enough to chat with you at your door over the past summer/fall when I was campaigning and the topic of BSL was brought up by you (I did not campaign on this issue one way or the other), then you knew where I stood on the issue by that time, but I wasn’t going to put anything out on the internet that made it seem as if I wasn’t open to hearing both sides of the issue. I wanted to be completely open and fair going into Council discussions.
After learning about the issue in early 2019, and then doing my own research and seeking out the writings of unbiased experts, I came to personally believe there is no science to support BSL in city ordinances. None of the presentations, public participants, or over a hundred emails that I received made me rethink that important fact. I also didn’t have any actual new information to add to Council discussions, so I remained largely silent during the sometimes-heated back-and-forth debate on this issue.
Of the interactions I had with dozens of real Prairie Village Ward 3 residents on this issue, the consensus was overwhelmingly in favor of repeal of the breed-specific language in our Animal Control & Regulation ordinance. The research I did, along with the messages from our neighbors, at a rate of 5:1 in favor, made my vote a “yes” to repeal the language at last nights meeting.
After debate by councilmembers, the motion to repeal section 2-105 of the ordinance banning “pit bulls” was passed 9-2.
So residents of Prairie Village may now own, rescue, and foster breeds such as the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, the American Pit Bull Terrier, and the American Staffordshire Terrier… or mixed breeds that include those.
We DO still have Ordinance 2-106: POTENTIALLY DANGEROUS, DANGEROUS AND VICIOUS ANIMALS. This and other parts of Chapter II were shored up in 2017 in anticipation of the pit bull ban being lifted in the future. I encourage residents to read Chapter II of our Municipal Code (begins on pg. 54), because there are a lot of people not following the rules and making their neighbors feel uncomfortable and/or unsafe. I wouldn’t want you to get cited because you just didn’t know.
*Lastly, the Prairie Village Municipal Code is a living document, and Council makes changes every year. There is talk of adding some additional regulations to this particular ordinance for dangerous dogs, and I am open to those conversations. I hope you’ll stay engaged on this issue and see where it goes over the next year or so.
- February 7th – Coffee and Conversations in Ward 3, 7:00 – 9:00 a.m.
- February 14th – Second Fridays in the Gallery with the Prairie Village Arts Council and a Chamber in the Chamber performance.
- February 18th – City Council Meeting, 6:00 p.m.
Looking forward to seeing you at “Coffee and Conversations” with Councilmember Poling and myself this Friday, February 7th at Starbucks in Prairie Village Shops!
Happy Chiefs Day!!