In parting comments, Prairie Village city admin implores city council to keep investing in public spaces, focus on the positive

The city council gave Bennion a standing ovation at his final meeting at Prairie Village City Administrator Monday.
The city council gave Bennion a standing ovation at his final meeting at Prairie Village City Administrator Monday.

Keep investing in public spaces. Focus on the great place that Prairie Village is overall and don’t get hung up on negativity.

Those were the the parting suggestions from the man who has played a major leadership role in a decade of significant regreening for one of northeast Johnson County’s largest cities.

At his final city council meeting at city administrator, Quinn Bennion, whose reserved disposition and measured approach have been a steadying force as the city worked through major redevelopment projects and other issues in recent years, took the opportunity to highlight the many positives in Prairie Village and encourage the governing body to keep the community headed on its current trajectory.

Bennion said that he was drawn to the job leading the city’s administration back in 2007 in part because of the reputation of its city staff and council.

“When city managers and city administrators look for opportunities, look for cities to work for, they look for a number of items — and Prairie Village had all that I was looking for,” he said. “And it panned out to be even more than that.”

And while he encouraged the airing of different opinions among council members, he said that he hoped the council could focus on the big-picture successes of the city, and not get drawn into squabbles about minor details.

“If you look at really any metric you can think of to measure a city and measure a community, Prairie Village is going to be at worst average, and in many, many instances far above average or the top. That’s something we need to celebrate,” he said. “I find a little disconnect when we have a lot of friction on the council because I think it should be more of a celebratory environment.”

He also stressed the importance of continued investment in public spaces like parks, roads and paths, saying that witnessing the extended impact of the renovation of public areas over his nearly 10 years at the helm had been a kind of “lightbulb moment.”

“I really see the impact that the community can make with the city’s role to invest in public spaces,” he said, noting that the city’s investment in public infrastructure encouraged homeowners and businesses to invest in their own properties.

Mayor Laura Wassmer read a proclamation thanking Bennion for his dedicated service to the city as he sets to depart for the city administrator job in Vernal, Utah, where his parents live.

“Our loss is their gain,” Wassmer said. “Quinn is humble and soft spoken and in the nine years…I’ve had the pleasure of working with Quinn, I’ve never once heard him take credit for anything he’s done or to toot his own horn. And the truth is, we would not be the Prairie Village we are today without Quinn.”

Indeed, Wassmer credited Bennion’s leadership with making Meadowbrook Park, the purchase of Faith Lutheran for a new city park, and the redevelopment of Village Shops and Corinth Square shopping centers.

“If you look around at all the things that make Prairie Village wonderful, a huge reason that we have all of that is because of Quinn,” she said. “And I cannot thank you enough from the bottom of my heart for all you have done for our city.”

Bennion said he and his wife Heidi hoped to be able to return to the city next year to participate in the opening celebration for the new Meadowbrook Park. On Monday, the council approved the appointment of Assistant City Administrator and former Police Chief Wes Jordan as interim city administrator starting July 5.