Roeland Park council wrestles with whether to sell or lease parts of old pool property for development

Limestone rock formations and caves are being crushed to make way for development at the old pool site in Roeland Park
Limestone rock formations and caves are being crushed to make way for development at the old pool site in Roeland Park

By Holly Cook

Roeland Park city councilors Monday discussed the potential of selling and leasing portions of land at the old pool site located near 48th Street and Roe Boulevard. The city is in preliminary talks with a hotel group and an extreme sports business interested in the location.

The council generally agreed they would support selling the upper portion of land fronting Roe Boulevard and leasing the lower portion that fronts 48th Street. Councilors said they wanted to remain flexible on the issue and open to the needs of prospective tenants.

City administrator Keith Moody said knowing the council’s preference could expedite the process of finalizing contracts with the hotel group and other interested tenants.

“You want to be bargaining to an end that both parties will ultimately agree to and this could be a pretty big sticking point,” Moody said.

The council’s economic development ad-hoc committee has discussed using funds from the potential land sale for a new public works building.

Councilor Tim Janssen said he would support selling the land outright.

“I don’t think our city should be in the landlord business,” he said.

Councilor Sheri McNeil voiced several concerns about selling the land. McNeil said the city had given up too much control with previous sales, noting ongoing issues with the city’s sale of a northwest parcel of land along Johnson Drive to Commerce Bank for a project that has been long stalled.

“I would hate to see us make another mistake like we did with the northwest corner,” she said.

McNeil said she would like the city to have input on businesses going into the old pool site to ensure they match the residents’ needs.

“I don’t want to be responsible for our city getting taken advantage of,” she said.

Moody said the city could maintain some control by including provisions within a sale contract restricting the use of the property. But these restrictions could decrease the value of the land, he said.

“I think we can learn from some of the shortcomings in the prior agreement,” he said.