Feasibility study complete, PV parks committee to consider community center/natatorium project

A rendering of a potential view of a community center/natatorium looking south from the SM East senior lot.

A new Prairie Village community center with a large natatorium and pool complex is possible, according to a feasibility study that has been in the works for nearly three years.

The report lays out three options for community center construction, the first two with large fitness and aquatic areas, both of which would be built at the site of the city’s current outdoor pool complex in Harmon Park near both city hall and SM East High School. The third option is a much scaled-down version without the aquatics and would be placed on city hall property at the site of the current community center building.

The study concludes that “market conditions are favorable for supporting the design and construction of a new community center/natatorium in Prairie Village” even with competing facilities in the area. The study points out that the existing pool facility will require capital investment in the next few years. The first option would include a competition pool, multiple gymnasium spaces, running track, youth fitness, fitness rooms, meeting and party rooms and community areas. Those facilities would differentiate it from competing facilities in the area, according to the study.

The primary difference between the first two options is a slimmed down competitive pool with a 50 meter pool in the first option, but a shorter pool in the second. Both have leisure aquatic space, bleachers for competitions, full fitness areas and multipurpose space. The third option has some fitness areas and meeting space, but is only 21,000 square feet while the first two options are both over 130,000 square feet in building size.

The two larger options would cost more than $40 million to construct while the third option comes in at $5 million.

The study predicts an annual operating deficit of more than $700,000 per year for the larger facilities – the difference between operating costs and fees that can be generated. It analyzes tax streams in property tax and sales tax that could support construction and operation if Prairie Village had to finance the project alone. However, the study suggests partnering with the school district, Johnson County Parks and Recreation (both of which helped fund the study), and the YMCA of Greater Kansas City.

The report says the YMCA is very interested in being a partner, and names Johnson County as potential primary partner. The school district may provide some capital dollars and is only interested in the competitive pool, according to the report. Surrounding cities that were interviewed, with the exception of Mission, were not concerned about competitive facilities.

The committee exploring the community center options grew out of the parks master plan in 2009 and was chaired by Prairie Village councilor David Belz. Due to the costs, Belz said, the only way to consider moving ahead is likely to “be with equity and operational partners.”

The study includes the results of a community survey that assesses support for specific activities housed in the centers and support for various financing options. A significant number of those surveyed indicated support for public financing of such a project.

The full report can be found here.

A rendering showing the inside of the gym.