The next 12 months could bring changes in the fields of economic development, politics and — let’s hope — public transit in Johnson County.
Here are some high priorities worth watching.
• This spring the Museum of Prairiefire is scheduled to open at Prairiefire at Lionsgate, southwest of 135th Street and Nall Avenue in Overland Park. The museum will feature an alliance with the American Museum of Natural History in New York City.
Unfortunately, Overland Park’s City Council was overly generous in endorsing public assistance for the upscale shopping center.
The real test for the Prairiefire development is whether it will attract new customers from outside the region — or just rotate them from surrounding shopping centers, which will suffer as a consequence.
• Later this year, elections will be held for four nonpartisan seats on the seven-member Johnson County Commission — for the commission chair and for districts 1, 4 and 5.
The most intriguing and important contest promises to match current chair Ed Eilert against current county commissioner Ed Peterson, and possibly other candidates.
The race will give Eilert, Peterson and others good chances to promote their visions for the county’s future. The candidates will need to give specific examples of programs they want to champion and how they will pay for them.
• County commissioners and transit advocates should offer support for improved bus service through The Jo.
The Jo has suffered from underinvestment in recent years. It has been unable to sufficiently expand routes, especially to serve the county’s growing number of elderly and low-income residents. That mind-set needs to be reversed in 2014.