Lenexa City Council candidates on the issues: Revitalizing Old Town

With development booming at City Center, some city leaders are hoping to find ways to revitalize Old Town.

Last month, we asked our readers what issues they wanted to hear the candidates running for local office address ahead of the August primary. Based on the (ample) input we received, we developed a five-item questionnaire for candidates running for city council in Lenexa.

Today we’re sharing the candidates’ responses to question number three:

The city has recently started looking at way to revitalize Old Town. Are there steps city government should be taking to bring new energy and life to the city’s historic center? If so, what?

City Council Ward 4

Julie Sayers

As I have been out speaking to neighbors in Ward 4, this has been the overwhelming concern from voters in our area, and would be one of my top priorities on the Council. The recent initial step of approving the study of the Community Center and Senior Center is one that would have a major impact on the visibility of the city’s investment in Old Town. I believe this project should be evaluated and approved to be completed in a single phase as soon as possible. The community gathering & green space that was included in this study would also be a direct answer to one of the goals of Vision 2040. With my background in design and construction, I am excited by the potential that lies in revitalization of Old Town and understand that the impact of decisions made on this issue will ensure that eastern Lenexa remain a desirable place for families to live.

Emily Behrmann

The city has been looking at ways to revitalize Old Town. I talked with neighbors, city staff and council members at a session about this at least two years ago. A plan has been proposed, and when I attended a recent city council meeting the plan was approved by the council members and will be considered for future planning. The Wayside Horn Project is a partnership between the City and BNSF Railway, and plans have been proposed to get things moving there, as well. In the meantime, the city, non-profit organizations and the Chamber have continued to hold events in Old Town regularly – the Chili Cook Off, the Midnight Bike Ride, the Business Blast – and recently a Food Truck Frenzy was added to the mix. The city doesn’t own the businesses in Old Town, but they do own the parking lot and of course, the streets, so events encourage people to come to Old Town and spend time there. When events aren’t going on, visit the businesses there. Support it with your time and your dollars.

Linda Leeper

A New Look at Old Town Lenexa study conducted in 2015 had several recommendations that were the responsibility of the City, others the business owners/property owners and some partnerships. The city has worked on the implementation of some of these key projects. As you may be aware the commercial area in Old Town is a relatively small concentrated area within 2 acres with 20 parcel of land and 16 different owners and bisected by the railroad tracks. This presents major challenges in working with the various players to move projects forward. Currently there are several very successful events happening in the area, including the Chili Challenge, Freedom Run, Community Days Parade but perhaps enhancements could be made to these events. Adding craft booths, more food trucks and beverage stations for visitors and spectators to enjoy. There is a major impact with the businesses when the City can drive traffic to the retailers in the Old Town block. The recent Food Truck Frenzy was a great success and brought great traffic to area. Another suggestion might be bringing the Farmer’s Market back to Old Town one Saturday a month. The City will need to continue to work to move elements of the study’s recommendations forward to keep them fresh in the minds of community.

Tomorrow we’ll publish the candidates’ responses to question four:

Lenexa has a lot of annual events — from the Spinach Festival to the Great Lenexa BBQ Battle to the Chili Cookoff to the Fourth of July Freedom Run. What’s your favorite and why?