At the October 3, 2022 City Council meeting, the City Council voted to send the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Y and updated market feasibility survey approval back to the Ad Hoc Civic Center Committee for additional review. The committee hadn’t seen the edited versions of either since the changes they requested had been made, so this allowed us time to review the documents again.
Additionally, some members of Council were unsure about the purpose of reissuing the survey, the process that we’re working through, the level of involvement expected of City Council members, and the workload of City staff working on this project on top of all the other projects and regular City duties.
Here is the agenda that we worked through for this meeting:
Meeting 03 Agenda, Meeting 02 Minutes, Proposed Survey, Proposed MOU22-CIVIC-CENTER-111422-Revised-Packet
Ad Hoc Civic Center Committee members:
- Chair: Ian Graves
- Vice-Chair: Bonnie Limbird
- City Council Rep: Dave Robinson
- Parks and Rec Committee: Randy Knight
- Planning Commission: Melissa Brown
- Citizen Appointment: Lauren Ozburn
- Citizen Appointment: Jamie Senter
All of our committee members were present, as well as the mayor, City Administrator Wes Jordan, Deputy City Administrator Nickie Lee, Assistant City Administrator Meghan Buum, and Mark Hulet of the Y.
The conversation covered many topics and many tangents, so it’s a bit hard to organize here, but I’ll try:
At the outset, Council Representative Dave Robinson shared his concerns, but also his improved understanding of, the cost, location, process, and definition of feasibility. Ian Graves, committee chair, and staff again explained the process to the committee and the reasons why we’re doing steps of the process in the order that we are. Dave also pressed for a fuller description in the survey preamble of the process we’re going through, the purpose of the updated survey, and how the committee and City Council will define or determine feasibility with the results of the survey.
We are updating the survey post-COVID to either validate the pre-COVID survey results (favorable) or show that the market has changed too much to make this project feasible (unfavorable). The goal is to make this updated survey as similar as possible to the 2019 version for an apples-to-apples comparison.
I asked Wes Jordan, City Administrator, how this process compares to other processes that PV and other municipalities have undertaken for large scale projects like this. Wes confirmed that the City has taken the process they used in the 2010 and 2012 feasibility studies, plus lessons learned from those endeavors to inform this go-round. The order that we are approaching these tasks in is standard practice, and PV has added additional “off-ramps” to exit the endeavor if we determine at any time that it isn’t in PV’s best interest:
- Consider an MOU with a possible partner (in this case, the Y) for cost share of:
- Administering the market feasibility survey (≤$30,000)
- Consider the results – analyze as favorable (feasible) or unfavorable (non-feasible)
- Make a recommendation to City Council one way or the other (this is a possible off-ramp)
- IF the results are deemed favorable, and IF City Council approves via vote, move forward to next step
- Next MOU with the Y and the JoCo Library for cost share of:
- Conceptual & site design and public input (~$150,000)
- Publish RFP for architectural partner to facilitate and complete the above.
- Create needs, wants, and possible designs through public input, and determine costs
- Consider the results – analyze as favorable or unfavorable
- Make a recommendation to City Council one way or the other (this is the next possible off-ramp)
- With proposed designs and estimated costs in hand, go to the next steps (which the City has never reached before on this topic, and which we didn’t discuss at this meeting)
Last time, in 2010 and 2012, the City and Council did this in reverse order, and spent six-figures to determine design and cost, but then determined it wasn’t feasible in our market. This time we’re going slower and in a more fiscally-responsible way by flipping the process to determine market feasibility first (at a lower expenditure) and then we’ll go to the next step of a six-figure cost if it makes sense.
Regarding the survey itself, we discussed the questions and what to include and not include for much of the two-hour meeting. Ultimately, we voted to make the following changes:
- Strike note in parentheses on question SQ3 – this isn’t a demographic that phone surveyors can determine on their own. Additionally, although Wiese does use this Q to attempt to get equal representation, the Y confirmed that a lack of a response on this Q does not affect their ability to serve the community.
- UNstrike all options on questions 7 & 8, except item W on Q7 – to keep survey substantially the same and not try to steer responses
- Remove/replace all references to “civic” with “community” and create consistency across all questions with this terminology – because this survey is specifically to address a “community center” building, not the civic center/campus.
- Modify the preamble (opening description of the purpose of the survey) to include both the Y and Prairie Village to legitimize the survey with the City’s backing and the Y’s brand recognition (good, bad, or indifferent). Will also include information that the JoCo Library is still part of the “civic center/campus” discussion, but not this particular survey since they will be a different building on a different timeline, and because co-locating and rebuilding the library received such extremely high favorability on the 2019 survey.
- Require the same number of participants for the phone survey as 2019 (400) with the associated cost change
The Survey Participants
We talked a lot about the number of participants, the breakdown for PV-residents vs. non, and how to ensure that the online survey link isn’t abused either in favor OR in opposition. In 2019, the phone survey covered 400 respondents, 53 of which were PV residents, and the online survey covered 632 PV residents.
Lauren Ozburn, citizen appointee, stated that we do want to get more PV residents to answer their phones than last time, but the non-PV residents are just as important. There is a “capital” cost to this project (the cost to build the building, presumed to be covered by citizen taxes and possible partners), as well as an “operational” cost to maintain and run the building post move-in. The non-PV residents are essential for determining the feasibility of covering the operational costs of the community center through additional memberships once it is open.
Lauren stated that the postcard this time needs to include the logos of both PV and the Y (again to enhance legitimacy), and the committee was in agreement.
The phone survey (the statistically-valid portion) will cover a list of randomized residents of ten zip codes in and around Prairie Village to measure market feasibility the same as last time.
The online portion of the survey (not statistically-valid, since it is self-selecting both in favor of and in opposition to) will be directed solely to PV residents, and the committee agreed that, in addition to the tracking by zip code and IP address that Wiese already does to validate responses, the postcards with the weblink should also include a special code per postcard to add another layer of validation.
The benefit of the online survey is to capture residents who increasingly do not answer their phones anymore. Wiese Group isn’t worried about abuse of the online survey because of their precautions already in place and because of the general way that the survey is written, but they are glad to take extra steps to make our committee and Council more comfortable.
Ian wrapped up the meeting by pledging to be more proactively and consistently communicative to the committee and City Council throughout these next steps.
Staff did not express any concerns about workload seeing this process through to completion on top of other projects and duties.
Dave mentioned the possibility of a committee and Council work session as discussed at the October 3rd Council meeting. Ian concurred that that may be a possibility after the survey. I stated that I think it is unnecessary. The whole purpose of a committee is to “work” the issue and make recommendations.
I concluded my comments at the meeting by sharing my support and confidence in the Ad Hoc Civic Center Committee with the representation, expertise, and experience that was brought together for this topic. If anyone is unsure about this committee’s appropriateness or work product, I definitely recommend they attend and observe the meetings in person.
Check out the City webpage for Civic Center information: https://www.pvkansas.com/departments/projects/civic-center
I think that covers about everything — all of my notes at least, of which there are always many. (I’m a big notetaker!) But the meeting minutes will be available by our next meeting to review after we approve them, so maybe City staff captured more information too. I’ll be sure to include those minutes with my next meeting recap for this committee.
Have a great weekend!!
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