Survey finds broad resident interest in proposed Prairie Village community center, library project

Prairie Village is exploring the possibility of a joint project to bring new facilities to the city on the site of the current YMCA building. The Johnson County Library is part of the discussion, and is looking at possibly locating a new Corinth branch on site.

Nearly 60% of Prairie Village residents who participated in a recent survey said they would definitely use a new community and civic center “assuming reasonable cost,” according to a report presented at a special City Council meeting Monday night.

The city, the YMCA of Greater Kansas City and the Johnson County Library entered a memorandum of understanding in July authorizing the study to consider the feasibility of building a new facility to replace the Paul Henson Family YMCA and a new library branch to replace the Corinth branch. The project is being considered for city-owned land near Harmon Park.

Omaha-based Wiese Research Group conducted the sustainability survey by phone and online between Nov. 13 and Dec. 16, 2019.

Monday’s meeting was held at the Meadowbrook Clubhouse, 9101 Nall Ave. with about 75 people in attendance. Cathy Morrissey of Wiese Research Group presented the survey’s results.

Among the findings from the study highlighted during Monday’s presentation were:

  • 59% of Prairie Village respondents said they “definitely would” use a new center. 16% said they probably would; 12% said they might; and 13% probably or definitely wouldn’t.
  • 34% of Prairie Village respondents said they would want a new library branch co-located on the site of the community/activities center. 11% said they’d want the library separate from the community center. 51% said it wouldn’t matter to them.
  • Residents also indicated their preferences for how to fund construction of a new center: sales tax, 29%; property tax, 16%; a combination of sales and property tax, 31%; wouldn’t support tax increase, 24%.

The council unanimously approved a motion at Monday’s meeting directing city staff to move forward on discussions with the YMCA and the Johnson County Library to create an action plan for a community engagement process and conceptual project site design, which would be presented to the council at a later date. That action plan would include cost estimates and how costs would be shared for building a new center, said City Administrator Wes Jordan.

“I was part of the Meadowbrook (development) process, and the city was very successful in working with partners for a very successful outcome,” Jordan said. “I would assume we would be taking a similar path (with this project) — community input and engagement and understanding costs … (which) can be shared and spread out as opposed to going it alone.”

The survey was conducted using two samples:

  • A 400 call phone survey fielded in a “trade area” comprising the ZIP codes 64112, 64113 and 64114 in Kansas City, Missouri; and 66202 (Mission), 66204 (Overland Park), 66205 (Mission), 66206 (Leawood), 66207 (Overland Park), 66208 (Prairie Village) and 66212 (Overland Park), with a margin of error of +/- 4.9 percentage points at the 95% confidence level
  • Among Prairie Village residents, 10,541 postcards went out that included a link to an online survey, yielding 632 valid online surveys; the total sample of phone and online surveys for Prairie Village proper was 714, with a margin of error of +/- 3.7 percentage points at the 95% confidence level.

The cost to procure the sustainability study was estimated in the memorandum of understanding to be no more than $50,000, of which 40% would be paid each by the city and the library and 20% by the YMCA. Jordan said Tuesday morning that Wiese Research Group’s fee so far was roughly $32,000 and was nearing completion.

John Mikos, president and CEO of the YMCA of Greater Kansas City, said he had done a lot of similar studies in his 30 years with the YMCA, “and every single time, I look at these things as one piece of the puzzle, just one.”

“It’s a starting point; it’s not the ending point,” Mikos said.