Future of French Center, aquatic center design, tax incentives: Our questions for the Merriam city council candidates

With the opening of the new community center on the horizon, Merriam is looking at what to do with the historic Irene B. French Community Center building.

Earlier this month, we asked our readers to submit suggestions for questions they’d like to hear the candidates running for seats on the Merriam governing body address.

Based on the (ample) input we received, we’ve developed the five-item questionnaire below and sent it out to the candidates competing in the races on the August primary ballot – the Ward 1 and Ward 4 seats.

We’ll be running the candidates’ responses to these items starting Monday, July 15.

Question 1
In recent years, developers have become increasingly likely to seek public finance incentives like tax increment financing and community improvement district sales taxes to pay for parts of their private projects. What’s your stance on the use of such incentives? When, if ever, is it appropriate to commit public finances to private real estate projects?

Question 2
With construction of the new community center under way, the city has been seeking input from residents on the future of the Irene B. French Community Center building. What would you like to see happen with the property and why?

Question 3
A group of residents have complained about the process that led to the design of the aquatics portion of the city’s new community center, saying it did not meet the expectations they were given in the lead up to the vote on funding the project. What’s your take on the process that led to the design and approval of the community center project? Do you support the design of the aquatics portion?

Question 4
What’s the biggest challenge facing the city of Merriam today, and how would you hope to address it as a member of the city council?

Question 5
The Metro KC Climate Action Coalition has organized to bring local elected officials together to discuss steps city and county governments can take to address climate change. Do you believe local government has a role to play in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and addressing other environmental issues? If so, what steps would you like to see the city take?