Today we continue with the Prairie Village Mayoral candidates’ responses to our election issues questionnaire.
Here’s item number four:
What’s the top infrastructure need — be it with roads, parks or other facilities — you see for the city today, and how would you go about getting it fulfilled as mayor?
Our top infrastructure needs are our streets and sidewalks, our pool complex, and the need for a current park plan. My number one priority would be our streets.
Street Operations & Maintenance
- 2015 – 2,580,422, Actual
- 2016 – 2,527,572, Actual
- 2017 – 2,664,375, Budget
- 2018 – 2,132,470, Budget
This is 40% of Public Works Budget
In Prairie Village as of last May, of our Arterial, Collector and Residential Streets, we have twenty-four percent of our streets rated fair or poor. This is thirty miles of streets that need our attention. Public Works goal of repaving 3.5 miles of streets annually would require eight and half years to resurface just these streets.
Food for thought with public works goal of repaving 3.5 miles of streets annually it will require 32 years to resurface our 112 miles of streets.
Everything costs money and it takes time. To provide good government we must budget funds for projects and programs to meet our resident’s expectations. Over months of walking I have heard time and time again that our pool needs to be modernized. This is where our community comes together at the center of our Village, and we, as our park board, residents, and council need to make this a priority for our residents.
Our park plan is out of date and needs to reflect our recent park acquisitions as well as other changes such as the addition of the new Fire Station at Harmon Park. This new neighbor will have some affect on the Skate Park, the Frisbee Golf Course and any future development. We have the responsibility to ensure that we are doing the most we can with what we have. Without a current park plan, we can’t be strategic in our growth.
Last year when we were looking at hiring a park and recreation director for a cost to the city of $135,000. I contacted Johnson County Parks and Recreation to start the conversation about how we could utilize their services without spending any additional money or reinventing the wheel. I am proud to say that the council approved Johnson County taking over our programming and it has saved us from needing another personnel, and provides better opportunities for our residents to enjoy our parks. This is an example of ways to create more with less. I believe strongly in grants and alternative funding. As a city, we can partner with others to make our tax dollars go further.
If you have followed my voting history or have heard me speak on this issue, I am very passionate about this.
February 6, 2017 it came before council to approve $76,032.50 for replacing the McCrum Park Tennis Courts. After doing research and meeting with tennis professionals, I was told the court didn’t need to be completely replaced, it only needed to be resurfaced and the cost for that would be around $30,000. While researching the cost of resurfacing, I found out that grants were available for these repairs for up to $25,000 if we had applied before we had gone out to bid on this project.
I am supportive of maintaining our public spaces, but it only makes sense to be proactive and search for additional funds that are available to our city. As your mayor I will!
Our roads and parks are generally in good shape, but we need to continue to maintain them well. Improvements to those, for example permanent restrooms in more of our parks, should be ongoing. We also have significant needs for drainage and stormwater improvements looming. While there are often grants and matching funds available for such projects, they won’t be easy or inexpensive.
Beyond those fundamentals, expansion of bike and pedestrian trails should be a priority. Thanks to the recent citizen survey, we know that a large majority of our residents support this. Across the U.S., bikeability and walkability are becoming the new suburban “luxury amenities.”
On Council, I worked to add two new parks for Prairie Village residents. I also worked to expand our bike and pedestrian trails; we now have miles of new trails built and under construction. I supported creation of the City’s new comprehensive bike/pedestrian plan with grant money. After multiple public meetings, this plan was recently adopted by the Council. We should implement it.
Expanding these paths are important for several reasons, including safety. There will always be walkers and bikers, including children. We have an obligation to connect them across the City safely, just as we do with drivers. Prairie Village lags our neighboring cities in this regard; there are bike paths across the KC metro region that abruptly end at our border.
There is also an economic reason for expanding bike paths and sidewalks. They attract families. Their relatively small costs are a fraction of the economic boost Prairie Village receives from new residents. Our public money has been well-spent on such improvements (which often come with matching grant money such as on Mission Road) and has already attracted millions of dollars of follow-on private investment.
We should also work to get electric car charging stations in multiple Prairie Village locations. This will provide an additional amenity for residents as well as allow the City to start considering electric vehicles for its own fleet.
Please visit www.mikkelsonforpv.com to see how you can help elect experienced, engaged, educated, effective leadership for Prairie Village’s future. And vote for Eric Mikkelson on November 6th!
Tomorrow, we’ll publish the candidates’ responses to our fifth question:
What makes you the best candidate to lead Prairie Village government the next four year and possibly beyond?