Shawnee citizen survey shows nearly two-in-three strongly support idea of new community center

Most Shawnee residents want to have a new community center of their own, after Lenexa’s just opened and Merriam’s is on the way.

The Shawnee council last week went over results from a feasibility study and last year’s survey results from 543 residents. About 64 percent of Shawnee residents said they very supportive, while 19 percent said they were not supportive.

Perkins+Will and Ballard*King & Associates, the two firms who worked on the study and survey, found that calls for a new community center in Shawnee have increased after Lenexa opened its own facility and Merriam is less than a month from breaking ground on its facility.

A community center in Shawnee would cost about $34.7 million.

The survey also indicated that 66 percent of residents would vote in favor or might vote in favor of a mill levy increase to help fund construction and maintenance of the community center. On the other hand, residents who said they do not want the community center also said they don’t want to pay for it. And about half of survey participants who didn’t want a mill levy increase also don’t want to increase taxes.

A conceptual rendering of a new Shawnee community center.

Shawnee residents’ highest priorities for indoor facilities include:

  • Indoor aquatics facilities
  • Elevated running/walking/jogging tracks
  • Fitness equipment area

Residents’ highest priorities for indoor programs include:

  • Farmers market
  • Fitness and wellness programs
  • Indoor court sports
  • Residents’ highest priorities for aquatic features include:
  • Recreational swimming area
  • Lazy river
  • Multi-lane lap pool

The new community center’s site location, open space and connectivity to Clear Creek Trail are also positives to most residents.

Results from open house input sessions

Open houses on the new community center also yielded a number of concerns from residents, including:

  • Funding – tax increase
  • Buy-in from eastern Shawnee
  • Not enough public support
  • Schedule to completion
  • Affordable rates
  • Short operating hours
  • Operating costs to maintain properly
  • Increased traffic
  • Pedestrian safety
  • Competition with private sector
  • New community center has to be better than Lenexa

Residents at the open houses also indicated they are “most excited” about the following the community center could offer:

  • Intergenerational and inclusive
  • Multi-use
  • Recreation and aquatics
  • Outdoor recreation amenities
  • Great location and site
  • Connection and views to outdoors
  • Affordable to all
  • Needed to accommodate growth
  • Represents all citizens
  • Make it unique to Shawnee

Open house input indicated that the following activities, programs and features have the “broadest community appeal”:

  • Indoor pool
  • Gym and indoor track
  • Fitness area and classes
  • Bouldering
  • Racquetball
  • Community classes
  • Rental spaces
  • Different types of family activities
  • Youth and Senior space(s)
  • Childcare for users
  • Outdoor activities – bike rentals, walking trails, etc.

Other thoughts and wishes from residents at the open houses include:

  • Outdoor pool but not a waterpark
  • Therapy pool
  • Sauna and steam rooms
  • Silver Sneakers
  • Trampolines
  • Performing arts center component
  • Plan for outdoor activities’ cost
  • Community garden
  • Cyclocross, biking in open space area
  • Quiet, reflective spaces
  • Summer camps, tournaments