The green light has been given for real work to begin on the Meadowbrook park and mixed use development project.
The Prairie Village City Council on Monday approved three measures — the redevelopment project plan, the transfer of the park site land to Johnson County Park and Recreation District, and the developer agreement — that pave the way for detailed planning work to commence on both the new public park and the private development of single family homes, a senior living community, an apartment complex and an inn.
The path to Monday’s votes was long and not without difficulties. Negotiators for the city of Prairie Village, Johnson County, the parks district and VanTrust Real Estate had to map out a complex series of arrangements over the past year to lay the groundwork for the project.
“The negotiations have been very long and very tough, sometimes very heated. But they’ve always been very respectful,” said Prairie Village Mayor Laura Wassmer. “None of us got everything we wanted. But I think we all got most of what we wanted. And I think that’s the sign of a very good compromise.”
With those measures passed, VanTrust can bring a plat proposal before the planning commission and the city council and the city can move forward with issuing the approximately $20 million in bonds that will pay for the parkland. The city’s tentative timeline for the project has the bond sale closing in early March 2016. (You can also find an excellent overview of all the major milestones in the project by visiting the city’s project page here).
Council member Jori Nelson did throw a last-minute wrench into the proceedings by raising concerns about the possibility that the former golf course site could have hidden environmental hazards and demanding that the site be subjected to intense testing. Nelson said that she worried the use of pesticides and fungicides on the golf course over the past 60 years could have contributed to unacceptable toxin levels in the soil.
Johnson County Park and Recreation District had already ordered a new Phase I environmental site assessment on the park land. Nelson insisted that a Phase I assessment would not be enough, though, and demanded that a more detailed Phase II assessment be conducted. As City Administrator Quinn Bennion pointed out to Nelson, however, environmental engineers do not carry out more detailed Phase II testing – which can run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars – unless the Phase I report indicates the potential for concern. Nelson ultimately ended up voting in favor of the measure.