A dream that many northeast Johnson County green space advocates thought had died back in 2010 appears to be alive and very well.
Former Johnson County Sun Publisher Steve Rose broke the news in his weekend column in the Kansas City Star that the Johnson County Parks and Recreation Department and VanTrust, the company that owns Meadowbrook Country Club, are deep into talks about turning a significant part of the recently shuttered golf course into a county park.
Prairie Village City Administrator Quinn Bennion and Parks and Recreation Committee Chair and mayoral candidate Laura Wassmer confirmed that the city has been heavily involved in the discussions, but said a formal announcement on the plans isn’t likely until late this month. Bennion said he couldn’t confirm at this time that the acreage breakdown reported in Rose’s column — approximately 88 of Meadowbrook’s 136 acres turned into a park with the remainder devoted primarily to residential development — was accurate because talks are still in progress and the situation is fluid.
The city of Prairie Village had actively advocated for the county to purchase the space for a park back in 2010, when financial troubles forced the club’s membership to consider options for selling the club. The county put in proposal to purchase the club’s land, but VanTrust — then called Caymus Real Estate — had a competing offer that guaranteed the club would remain open for at least three more years. The Meadowbrook membership voted in favor of the VanTrust proposal, and in the process seemed to douse hopes that the land might ever become a park.
“Many of us were disappointed at the time that they didn’t look further into the future on that vote,” recalled Bennion.
“The city has made it known that we are interested in acquiring additional green space and we have encouraged developers to include green space in their plans,” said Wassmer, who is running unopposed to succeed former Prairie Village Mayor Ron Shaffer, now on the Board of County Commissioners. “VanTrust approached Prairie Village and Johnson County about the possibility of setting aside some green space as part of their Meadowbrook redevelopment. We, along with Johnson County Parks and Recreation, were successful in negotiating for a significant amount of green space as part of the plan.”
Bennion said many of the details of the project are still being worked out, and he anticipates that there will be ample opportunity for public comment on the project before final plans are submitted with the city. It is unclear at this point precisely how the park would be administered and whether the county would purchase or lease the land. And while the current R1-A zoning would allow for a park on the property, Wassmer said other parts of the plan may require zoning changes.
“The city, Johnson County, and VanTrust have been working closely together on the development concepts which will be brought forward to the city council in February, and then to the greater public shortly thereafter,” Wassmer said. “I’m very excited for everyone to see the plans and for us to gather input from our residents.”