Prairie Village celebrates opening of Wassmer Park on former site of Faith Lutheran Church

Prairie Village city leaders and residents celebrated the grand opening of Wassmer Park on Saturday.

Prairie Village city leaders and residents on Saturday celebrated the opening of Wassmer Park, the city’s newest addition of green space on the north side of the city.

Located on three acres at 67th Street and Roe Avenue on the former site of Faith Lutheran Church, Wassmer Park is named after former Mayor Laura Wassmer, an advocate for city parks who encouraged the church to sell the property for future park space.

Bob Lindeblad, who was president of Faith Lutheran Church when the church members made the decision to close and sell the property to the city, said that to him, the gathering space for the community and play areas for children are reminiscent of the church’s purpose to bring the community together.

“It could have been a housing development; the members really liked the idea of a city park,” he said. “It’s going to be a special place forever.”

Laura Wassmer, former mayor of Prairie Village, was a key component in acquiring property to build the new park.

With the additions of Meadowbrook Park and Wassmer Park, Prairie Village has added 86 acres of green space in the city. City leaders thanked the church members, parks committee, staff and members of the construction team for their involvement in the project.

Wassmer, who served 17 years on the city council and as mayor from 2015 to 2019, said she was “overwhelmed and incredibly grateful” that the city named the park after her.

“I was involved in the acquisition of it, but I can’t take a lot of credit for anything that came after that,” Wassmer said, thanking city staff and parks committee members for their work on the park project. “It’s beyond my wildest dreams. I had no idea it would turn out this beautifully. It’s so much bigger than we thought it would look, and it’s just so much nicer than I had ever imagined.”

The park includes a variety of playground equipment, including a zipline, climbing structures and music makers, as well as pavilion spaces and a garden created by Master Gardeners. City leaders said the majority of the roughly $1.7 million project was funded by cash reserves from the city’s economic development fund, which had been unused for years.

Lindeblad said Faith Lutheran Church gave away assets of the church to at least 15 area churches. And from the sales acquisition of roughly $1 million, the church gave away the funds to various ministries.

“That is the biggest joy I think,” Lindeblad said. “We’re still ministering, we’re still active, even though the bricks and mortar aren’t here. The ministry of the church goes on.”

Prairie Village installed a historical marker on site in honor of Faith Lutheran Church, which was active for 65 years before it closed in 2017. City leaders noted that Prairie Village was the lowest bidder for the project.

“It’s one of the most special days a city can have and imagine,” said Mayor Eric Mikkelson. “It’s an historic event bringing all of Prairie Village together, kids, seniors, now and in perpetuity will be enjoying this park. The fact that the church helped make it happen and so many people came together — we finally realized their vision to make it happen today.”