By Roxie Hammill
The opening of a new city hall, recreation center and public market were Lenexa’s crowning achievements of 2017, and more public buildings are on the way for the City Center development, said Mayor Mike Boehm.
But as Lenexa leaders look back on last year’s high points, they will also be considering future challenges as the next city visioning study starts this year.
Boehm presented a generally rosy picture of 2017 during his annual State of the City speech Wednesday, noting progress at City Center and generally high approval ratings for city services among residents.
“After all that has happened in the last 12 months, I believe we can add 2017 to the list of significant years which define our community,” he said.
Much of the speech focused on the mixed-use development near Renner Boulevard and 87th Street Parkway. The City Center was envisioned 20 years ago as a new downtown. It is farther west than previous shopping hubs, closer to the geographic center and the newer part of town farther west.
The new city facilities that opened last summer will be followed by the new farmers market in April, which will open with stalls along the edge of the parking garage. A new library branch is under construction a few feet away, and an aquatics center for Shawnee Mission School District is going up across the street to the north. Both are to be open in 2019.
Another significant development in the western part of town is the Ridgeview Road project, connecting from Prairie Star Parkway to K-10. Construction will begin this spring on the new road, which is expected to spark more development.
Boehm also highlighted changes coming to the older, eastern part of town. City leaders hope to get federal funding to find the best use for the Community Center and Senior Center buildings in Old Town, near Pflumm Road and Santa Fe Trail Drive. And the city is looking at how to upgrade Quivira Road, as well as a complete streets study on how to make all Lenexa roads more accessible for pedestrians, bicyclists, the handicapped and public transit riders.
Lenexa is remains in a strong financial position, Boehm said, with projected revenues and expenses in balance for the next five years. That, plus an excellent bond rating and strong reserves give Lenexa “a fiscal outlook that is the envy of many other cities.”
The city will also face challenges in coming years, as demographics and shopping patterns shift, Boehm said. Those will be studied this year in Vision 2040, a study where residents are asked to set long-range priorities for the city.
Boehm suggested they might consider how changes in shopping patterns will affect retail in Lenexa and whether Lenexa will transition to mostly redevelopment as the city gets built out. Meeting the needs of an aging population and dealing with new technology could also be food for thought, he said.
Overall, residents give Lenexa higher approval ratings for city services, parks and safety than other metro cities get, he said.
“In a time when many are frustrated with government, we should be proud that our residents believe we help make Lenexa an exceptional community,” Boehm said.