Shawnee Chamber of Commerce board issues unanimous endorsement of property tax increase for new community center

A rendering of the proposed community center that Shawnee residents will vote on in May.

A week before ballots on a property tax increase to fund the project hit Shawnee residents’ mailboxes, the Shawnee Chamber of Commerce’s board of directors has come out with an endorsement in favor of the community center proposed for 61st Street and Woodland.

The board voted unanimously in favor of endorsing a yes vote on the property tax increase at a meeting on Thursday.

“As stated in the Shawnee Chamber Strategic Plan, we support economic development initiatives that demonstrate investments in our community which includes public amenities that enhance quality of life,” said chamber board chair Heidi Thummel, who works for the engineering and architecture firm GBA. “Thus when brought before the full Board of Directors we determined it was imperative to support a project of this nature. A positive vote is an investment in healthier Shawnee families.”

In a release accompanying the announcement of its endorsement, the chamber board said it believed the community center would be a “positive development for the city of Shawnee” for a number of reasons. The following language comes from the chamber’s announcement:

• Data from a National Recreation and Park Association survey points to quality of life factors as a high priority for corporate executives in site location decisions.

• Data from a city-wide survey via Shawnee Parks and Recreation indicates strong usage of current facilities and desire for new facilities in Shawnee.

• The Proposed Community Center will serve as a catalyst for the increased economic impact on neighboring businesses.

Meanwhile, a group of residents organizing against the proposal has picked up activity in the lead up to the vote, distributing yard signs and circulating videos and social media posts urging residents to vote no.

The proposed property tax increase would amount to about $88 per year for the owner of an average Shawnee home valued at $263,130. Proceeds from the tax increase would go to pay around $38 million in construction costs as well as financing charges that would bring the total project cost over 20 years to about $54 million.