In response to pandemic closures, Prairie Village puts civic center planning on hold, cancels Meadowbrook fireworks display

Prairie Village, the Johnson County Library and the YMCA of Greater Kansas City were in talks about a possible joint project to bring a new community center facility and library to the city. Those planning efforts have been put on hold during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Prairie Village City Council on Monday accepted the recommendations of city staff to alter a handful of planned city investments on account of the coronavirus pandemic.

Among the changes the city administration laid out in a memo to the governing body was suspension of any additional preliminary planning work on the proposed civic center concept, which envisions a new community center and Johnson County Library branch on land near Harmon Park.

The city, the YMCA of Greater Kansas City and the Johnson County Library entered a joint agreement last summer to conduct a feasibility and market interest study on the idea. The organizations got the results of a survey on resident interest in the idea in January.

The parties were set to begin discussions on a more detailed community engagement process as well as conceptual design — but those plans will be put on hold for the time being.

“We’re put in a position where we’re going to be making some tough recommendations,” Prairie Village City Administrator Wes Jordan told the council during their governing body meeting Monday night, which was conducted via Zoom.

Additionally, the council voted to rescind its previous approval for a fireworks display at Meadowbrook Park as part of Fourth of July celebrations this year.

The council had been split on the idea of partnering with VanTrust Real Estate on the event, with Mayor Eric Mikkelson breaking a tie to advance the idea last month. The city’s planned $25,000 investment in the display was to be funded by proceeds from the transient guest tax to be levied at the Inn at Meadowbrook, which has been scheduled to open sometime this spring. With the uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 shutdowns, Mikkelson noted that the funding source was no longer guaranteed.

Moreover, said Jordan in the memo, the city needed to focus its resources on “providing essential City services during the COVID-19 response,” and that planning for the fireworks event would exceed capacity.