Prairie Village resumes its conversation at the Civic Center – A timeline of how it came about

For years, Prairie Village has been discussing ideas for redeveloping a four-square-block area around the city’s urban campus, which includes the current Paul Henson YMCA, upstairs, near 79th Street and Mission Road. Archive photo.

Prairie Village’s ad hoc civic center committee met last week for the first time in years, resuming a conversation that has largely been on hold because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

But there’s a long story behind efforts to redesign the quadrangular block surrounding City Hall that includes Harmon Park and Shawnee Mission East High School.

The area now designated by the city as the Prairie Village Civic Center is bounded by Delmar Street and Mission Road to the east and west, and 75th and 79th Streets to the north and south.

The area is now referred to as the “Civic Center” of Prairie Village. Image via Google Maps.

Below is a look at how civic center talks have gone in Prairie Village’s past and how the town got to this point.


The puzzle pieces

Below is a quick look at several moving parts involved in the discussion at the Civic Center.

  • The library: Johnson County Library plans to rebuild the Corinth branch on Mission Road by 2026, city officials said. Mayor Eric Mikkelson said two years ago that the ideal option for JCL would be a co-location with a potential community center (similar to the Lenexa City Center branch).
  • The YMCA: The future of the Paul Henson YMCA near 79th and Mission is uncertain as the current, decades-old facility continues to decay. YMCA also owns the land on which it sits and some lands adjacent to Harmon Park.
  • Genesis Health Club: The company says it is shelving the details of its plan to move into the redevelopment of the former Macy’s until more is known about the community center project.
  • Resident Opinion: The Civic Center Ad Hoc Committee agrees that the 2020 Resident Survey will need some sort of validation or possibly rerun at this point. City officials are working with other communities to see how community center usage looks amid COVID-19.
  • Possible costs: City Treasurer Nickie Lee said the city could borrow up to $20 million more before holding talks about a possible impact on Prairie Village’s current AAA bond rating.

Although the city’s municipal buildings and pool are also part of the civic center’s equation, the committee unanimously agreed to remove the buildings and the adult and lap pools from its discussions.

Because improvements to the town hall, the police and the swimming pool are always delicate and necessary.

What’s next: YMCA will host a community forum on May 12th at the Meadowbrook Clubhouse, 9101 Nall Avenue, from 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Residents, members and other stakeholders are invited to contribute to the future of the YMCA.

The Prairie Village Civic Center ad hoc committee plans to meet monthly. Specific times and dates will be made available on the city’s calendar, which can be found online here.

key quote: “The request to employees is, Please don’t go down any path unless we’re willing to pay for it and unless we’re willing to hold a public vote on it — because we’re going to be spending a lot of human time on it,” City Manager Wes said Jordan.

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