Prairie Village, YMCA and JoCo Library looking to field feasibility study on community center idea

City officials have had discussions with the YMCA about the possibility of partnering to bring a modern community center to Prairie Village. The two entities are working with the Johnson County Library on an agreement to field a high level feasibility study on the idea.

The city of Prairie Village, the YMCA of Greater Kansas City and the Johnson County Library have agreed in principle to jointly field a high level feasibility study on a possible community center project, Prairie Village Mayor Eric Mikkelson announced Monday.

In remarks at the city council meeting last night, Mikkelson said he expected that city staff would have a memorandum of understanding between the three parties to present in the coming weeks, perhaps as soon as the next council meeting. The agreement would authorize the expenditure of up to $50,000 on a market study with the cost split among the three parties.

Mikkelson and City Administrator Wes Jordan were quick to characterize the study as the most preliminary step in evaluating whether a collaborative community center project would be supported by residents and whether it would be financially feasible.

The study would explore questions about what amenities residents of Prairie Village and surrounding communities would want to see in such a project, what kinds of membership costs they would be willing to pay, and what taxes — either property or sales — they would be willing to consider to fund construction.

“There is no obligation on anybody beyond that. If we get a positive result from that in our collective judgment, we would probably move to at least one community meeting and then fleshing out design and costs and feasibility options,” Mikkelson said. “But baby steps first.”

The idea of the city partnering with the YMCA on a project has been simmering since early this year, and city officials announced this spring that they had added library officials to the discussions as well.

Discussions about the parties collaborating appear to be timely, as the YMCA considers its options for modernizing the dated Paul Henson facility on 79th Street and the library considers options for reconstructing its Corinth Branch. A collaborative project could bring a new community center with exercise and/or indoor aquatics facilities to a campus that also included a new public library.

But costs for such a project could vary greatly depending on which features a center would include. Jordan said the city and its partners want to get a good sense of whether there’s demand and wide interest in such a project before investing significant resources in detailed financial feasibility projections and design.