Prairie Village plans to re-survey residents to find out if there is still interest in a new community center.
Why is it important: This new survey would come more than two years after a previous survey showed broad resident support for a new community center, “assuming reasonable cost”, to replace the aging Paul Henson YMCA near 79th Street and Mission. Road.
If approved, the results of this new survey would be used by city leaders and YMCA officials to see if there is still community support for a new recreational facility – as well as resident support to pay for it. .
What’s new: At a public meeting Thursday, the city’s civic center ad hoc committee unanimously recommended submitting a survey and mailing agenda item to city council.
In addition, the civic center ad hoc committee recommended that staff work on a memorandum of understanding with the Y and check with the following potential partners:
- Johnson County Library, regarding the future of the Corinthian Library
- Shawnee Mission School District, to see if there is interest in partnering with some sort of aquatic feature for a new community center
- Johnson County Park and Recreation District, regarding how the Y could complement programming rather than compete with it
Library not included: Unlike two years ago, the new poll would not ask residents if they supported a new library accompanying a new community center.
Mayor Eric Mikkelson said while the library is still “an integral part of the equation,” its timeline is longer than either the city or the Ys.
A co-located community center and library — similar to a plan underway in Merriam — is a “strong possibility” in Prairie Village, Mikkelson said.
Background: Prairie Village restarted community center conversations in February, after a nearly two-year hiatus caused by COVID-19.
Prior to the pandemic, Prairie Village and the Y were in discussions about concept design and community engagement for a potential community center.
Last week, the Y held a neighborhood meeting to assess the support of members and residents of Prairie Village in maintaining the footprint of the Paul Henson facility in the city.
At this meeting, Y officials told the crowd that the Paul Henson Y was operating with an annual deficit of $200.00.
Here’s a timeline of nearly decades-old community center conversations in Prairie Village.
Inquiry details: The investigation would cost the city about $30,000 and would again be conducted by the Omaha-based Wiese Research Group.
It would be almost identical to the one conducted in 2019, although the questions about the collocated library are removed.
Questions would focus on whether residents and other community members are interested in a Y, whether residents are willing to pay for it, and what kinds of programs and amenities are attractive if the project goes ahead.
The city would aim to collect 300 responses from residents who live in select ZIP codes in and around Prairie Village, on both sides of the state line.
There would also be an online survey for Prairie Village residents only, and the city estimates that about 600 respondents to this survey.
The entire proposed investigation can be found in city documents. here.
YMCA chief operating officer Mark Hulet said the Y is prepared to share the costs of the investigation if the city and the Y reach a memorandum of understanding.
And after: The item to re-survey residents now will go to city council for approval.
City staff will also provide more concrete figures on the cost of a letter to be sent to all Prairie Village residents informing them of the online survey, which City Council will also consider.
If approved, the survey could begin as early as July and the results could be available by August or September.
Key quote: “We come out of [COVID-19] and we need to understand where the audience is in this kind of new environment – what their expectations are, what their desires are,” said board member Ian Graves. “Your guess is as good as mine which way it’s going to influence because nothing really makes much sense post-COVID so it could be weaker, could be the same, could be sideways, could be stronger . I think we really need to know, it’s a huge investment in terms of time, in terms of staff time, in terms of possible expenditures on the capital side.