civic/community center, Community, Construction Projects (City), COVID-19, Development, Engagement, Parks, Recreation, Voting, Youth

Ad Hoc Civic Center* Meeting #01

Posted by Bonnie Limbird

Ad Hoc Civic Center* Committee Members:

  • Chair – Ian Graves
  • Vice-Chair – me (Bonnie)
  • City Council Member – Dave Robinson
  • Community Member – Jamie Senter
  • Community Member – Randy Knight
  • Community Member – Melissa Brown
  • Community Member – Lauren Ozburn
  • Parks & Recreation Director – Keith Bredehoeft
  • Finance Director – Nickie Lee
  • Deputy City Administrator – Jamie Robichaud
  • City Administrator – Wes Jordan
  • Mayor Eric Mikkelson

No binding action will be taken from this committee. If there is a building option (rec/community center structure) considered, the intent is that that option will go to the voters at the ballot box as well as be voted on by the full City Council. These meetings are, and will remain, open to the public at all times. Meeting times and locations will be posted around 3 business days before, but I will do my best to alert you earlier as soon as I can.

*See Terminology below for definition of terms.

Where we last ended.

The 2020 pandemic put rec/community center discussions on hold, and in the meantime, the entire health club industry changed. At that time, we were exploring a partnership with the JoCo Library and/or the Y and had recently completed a community survey (with both the Y and the JoCo Library) that received results pointing toward community support of a rec/community center. We were about to go to the next step with the JoCo Library for conceptual design and more public engagement when forward progress was halted.

So now, what are the next steps at the 30,000 feet level? What do we want to do about the 2019 community survey? How much has changed in residents’ minds since the pandemic and the last two years? Do we need to refresh it? How many steps backward should we take to make sure we do this thoroughly to capture any changes the pandemic has brought?

COVID Impacts to Fitness & Community Centers

Nickie Lee, City Finance Director, provided an unofficial, surface-level report on comparable public sector community centers in the area and what they are experiencing today. What might we expect if we went this route?

  • Sylvester Powell CC – Even pre-pandemic their cost-recovery was only 70%. In 2021, they were only at 36%. (They haven’t surpassed 85% in the last 5 years.)
  • Merriam Community Center – Opened in 2020, but not fully open until 2021. Their intention was to have a cost-recovery in the 60% range annually (because they plan to subsidize their center). In 2021, they were only at 40-ish%.
  • Matt Ross/Tomahawk Ridge CCs – Pre-pandemic: 136% cost recovery combined (they don’t separate the two facilities). In 2021, they were at 94%.
  • Lenexa Rec Center – Relatively new also, but performing extremely well. Pre-pandemic they brought in over a million dollars above their expenses. In 2021, they were at 119% cost recovery.

Of course, further research will be required, but this small sampling shows that the current standings for these centers are all over the place.

Ian: Our challenge in entering a new space that we’ve not been in before, such as a rec/community center, is the importance of capitalizing on historical knowledge/experience and partnerships with organizations who do have a background in that space.

Y Partnership Update

John Mikos, the Y CEO, gave the committee a current update on the Y. They’re actually at a higher utilization than they were before in areas like day care, Alzheimer’s care and those types of therapeutic/health programs. Still, there has been an impact by the pandemic.

On May 12th (5-8pm?) the Y is hosting a community forum at Meadowbrook Park Clubhouse so they can see what are the needs of Prairie Village. Are those same services that we talked about in 2019 still viable? Is there still need for day care, chronic disease care, youth development, Silver Sneakers, and more of those intrinsically Y programs?

The Y in PV matters to a lot of people who use it for more than just fitness, including vital services. How do we ensure/facilitate continuity of those services here in PV?

JoCo Library Partnership Update

The library has currently slated the rebuild of the Corinth branch to 2027, which means they have until 2024 to begin a programming study and start working toward their final direction.

We will continue to communicate with them in the interim.

City Bond Capacity

Prairie Village is a AAA Bond rating city. That means we utilize the best practices for our finance planning, execution, and reporting and that we get the best rates for borrowing, when we do. What does this mean:

  • At this point, how much can we borrow and maintain our AAA Bond rating? $20 million
  • How much can we borrow and keep our debt payment flat and still cover our responsibilities? $15 million
  • Beginning in 2024, we will have more capacity to borrow because we will be paying off one of the current debt items.

What does a partnership with one of these (or other) entities mean/bring? Does it mean the partner brings a check? It’s no surprise that if this does go towards building a rec/community center structure, it’s going to cost a certain amount of money. In 2012, the direction was: We won’t go down this route unless we’re prepared to know how we’re going to pay for it, and unless we’re prepared to take it to resident vote. That effort didn’t get as far as a resident vote, but for this effort let’s learn from our past experiences and from the lessons in other communities recently (Merriam, Shawnee, Lenexa) on this process. Let’s not wish for $50 million worth of amenities on a $25 million budget.

Mayor brought up the 2019 community survey again, which did cover levels at which residents were willing to pay extra for additional amenities. At that time there was also talk of utilizing sales tax (maybe a 1/2% sales tax) to help cover costs through the shopping in our commerce centers of PV by residents of our neighboring municipalities (Mission Hills, Leawood, etc.).

Randy Knight shared that some items from the most recent Parks Master Planning exercise (which will be presented to City Council soon) were actually originally identified during the last master planning cycle 10+ years ago. Those items are now being pushed to 2025 or later to a CIP scheme. His point was that these are important items, too, and we don’t want to defer making our parks great and inclusive too much longer. (I don’t think these are either/or options, though. Stay tuned.)

2019 Community Survey Info

In the statistically-valid (to the 95th percentile), independently-facilitated community study from 2019, the results indicated a strong community interest in pursuing a rec/community center idea. But it was pre-COVID, and we’ve noted since the 2020 Census that the demographics are now trending younger in some of our wards. Reasonable people might agree that some of the 2019 community survey findings are stale and need to be revisited. People could be less interested now, or they could feasibly be more interested. It’s worth noting that the survey seemed to show that the younger families are the family units most likely to utilize such a space.

The Wiese Group, who facilitated the 2019 community survey, has been contacted by the Y to review that survey and make recommendations for how to move forward. (We’re working on setting up a call with them now.)

Lauren Ozburn asked how many respondents there were to the survey… I believe that number is 714. Survey results linked HERE.

Genesis Health Club Info

A Genesis rep spoke to their desire for the city to stay out of the health club space and utilize our borrowing capacity in the parks or elsewhere. They were in contract with First Washington Realty for the lower level of the old Macy’s building, but they have put that on hold until the City decides what direction we want to go. Genesis was not part of the partnership talks or even in the picture in 2019.

Pool Repairs Pending

Public Works Director, Keith Bredehoeft, updated the committee on the situation with the lap and adult pools (which function as one through the piping/pumping, etc.); primarily the repairs that were made and the future repair needs identified in 2021. The future pool repairs would cost $1.2m to get it fully updated and viable for another 30 years.

Aging Municipal Complex

Deputy City Administrator, Jamie Robichaud, spoke to this topic. Our City Hall and Police Department structure was built in 1971 with a 1984 addition. There are a lot of challenges with the facility; the most challenging being the layout. It’s not super user-friendly for residents (way-finding); departments are segregated in different parts of the building separated by public spaces hindering appropriate collaboration; it’s difficult for the PVPD to secure with so many open and long corridors; and both PD and Admin have outgrown their spaces. We also have limited meeting spaces. We often don’t have space available for necessary meetings with staff, committees, outside auditors, etc. City Council has budgeted $100k for a study of the City Hall building in 2022.

Rec/Community Center Location Review

Keith Bredehoeft shared his assessment that it would be safe to make modifications to the existing City Hall structure(s) and the lap and adult pools due to the limited feasible locations for a rec/community center. I.e. A new rec/community center building wouldn’t wouldn’t affect the City Hall or lap and adult pool footprints.

Lauren Ozburn played devil’s advocate and noted that we will be asked to justify the expense to keep that 50 meter lap pool. The evolving nature of aquatics brings up this question every day in her professional world. The question for cities is always: can we get more attendance and interaction with other amenities? However, USA Swimming may require 50m for competition, and this is a unique feature in PV that many other cities don’t currently have. There is also a severe UNDER supply of indoor swimming pools (we don’t currently have one and Roeland Park recently got rid of theirs). Is this an opportunity? We just need to hear from residents. What we all do understand is that it’s never a good thing to take an amenity AWAY from residents once you’ve been providing it for decades.


Per Village Vision 2.0:

  • Civic Center = 75th-79th St, Delmar to Mission Rd. Basically the municipal complex, and any non-City properties within those boundaries. This area should be preserved for institutional uses, civic services, public good. Doesn’t mean “a building”. It means a “center of activity”.
“Civic Center” as defined by Village Vision 2.0
  • Village Centers = our commerce centers (Corinth Square, Prairie Village Shops, etc.)
  • Rec/Community Center = “a building” for community gathering and recreation
Scope of Ad Hoc Civic Center Committee

This committee agreed unanimously that the City Hall building and lap and adult pools will not be considered as part of our scope on this committee. Staff will continue working on those components with City Council so they can move forward for timeliness.


This meeting was a good kickoff and overview of the “civic center” and/or “rec/community center” discussions to date, though admittedly not completely comprehensive. There is a LOT of history on this topic, and I look forward to delving deep into it and hearing from YOU. You can email me and Ian both at our council emails: and respectively.

Can’t wait to hear from you! 😁

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