Prairie Village councilmember issues statement on Village Square costs ahead of public input sessions

The Village Square concept would lead to a reworking of Harmon and Santa Fe Parks in Prairie Village.
The Village Square concept would lead to a reworking of Harmon and Santa Fe Parks in Prairie Village.

Following the emergence of a rift among some members of the Prairie Village City Council last week about promotion and communication regarding the Village Square proposal for Harmon and Santa Fe Parks, a supporter of the concept has issued a statement to constituents with information about the costs associated with the project.

At last Monday’s meeting, councilmembers including Dan Runion and Eric Mikkelson said they were concerned that the city had not presented a full accounting of the costs that would be associated with moving forward with the Village Square concept, and that the idea had taken on a “runaway train” character.

Ward 4 representatives Brooke Morehead, who has championed the idea for the project, and Sheila Myers, who has backed it strongly, took issue with their fellow councilmembers’ critiques of the way the proposal has been handled thus far. Over the weekend, Myers issued a message to constituents encouraging them to attend the public input sessions on the project scheduled for Tuesday and Thursday.

Myers’ full message is below:

Dear Prairie Village Friends and Neighbors,

I encourage you to attend either of the public input sessions for Village Square this Tuesday and Thursday at the Community Center from 5-7 p.m.

Regardless of whether you come, there is some misunderstanding and misinformation about this proposal that needs to be corrected.

1. While the BBN concept design estimate is $5.2 million, that cost includes everything: picnic pavilion, performance pavilion, small pavilion near playground, restrooms, walking trail, wiring for lighting and sound, new entrance landscape, Santa Fe nature playground, moving practice courts, and adding parking near the water tower. Almost all of these elements were recommended in the 2009 Master Plan for Harmon Park. The goal of the public input sessions is to get feedback from residents on which elements they like and don’t like.

2. We have not discussed details about financing or maintenance. First, we need to identify which elements of the proposal will be implemented. A council member stated that financing cost and annual maintenance costs could run $1 million each. I don’t know where that information came from.

3. There is no attempt to hide the cost from the public. The cost of the total proposal is $5.2 million and it is in the information packet on the city website. However, we won’t know what the cost will be until we decide what will be implemented.

4. Harmon Park is the heart of Prairie Village. It is home to the municipal complex, aquatics center, tennis center, community gardens, and the venue for the two biggest PV events: Jazzfest and Villagefest. The city has put off major improvements at Harmon for many years. Some elements in the design are included in the city budget: playground, skatepark, pool house improvements. These improvements are not included in the $5.2 million BBN estimate, but before we start work on the playground and skatepark, we need a roadmap. That is just smart planning.

Please share this information with your friends and neighbors. Come to the public input sessions and let us know what you think.