Perhaps it was because it coincided with the Kansas Royals’ 14-2 thrashing of the Toronto Blue Jays in Game 4 of the American League Championship Series. Or perhaps it was because it was the second such gathering.
But a public meeting on Tuesday at the former Meadowbrook Country Club clubhouse to gather input on the plan to turn the former golf, swim and tennis club into a combination park and mixed-use development drew less than half of the 350-plus people who took part in a similar meeting the month before.
The baseball game was shown on a screen in a corner of the room while officials from Prairie Village, the Johnson County Park and Recreation District, Landworks Studio and VanTrust Real Estate gathered around presentation boards detailing how the nearly 140 acres are to be transformed. The VanTrust representative was busy throughout the 3 1/2 hours, talking to people about housing options and other facets of the development.
VanTrust bought the former country club four years ago. Prairie Village proposes to buy about 84 acres from VanTrust, transform it into a park and cede title to the county district, which would then maintain it in perpetuity. VanTrust would develop the remaining land into approximately 53 single-family homes, 70 townhome units, 330 units of senior housing, 280 apartments, a boutique hotel and some commercial spaces. The city plans to use bonding authority and tax increment financing to fund the park’s creation.
The plan is marching forward, with a meeting to notify neighbors of the developer’s rezoning request set to follow the public meeting by one day. The land on the southern part of the golf course that is to become mixed use is now classified single-family residential.
The master plan for the entire development is set to go before the Prairie Village City Council and the park board for the first time on Nov. 2 and 18, respectively, and then again Dec. 7 and 16. If approvals are gained and everything goes smoothly, Bill Maasen, superintendent of parks and golf courses for the county, said Meadowbrook Park could open to the public in late 2017.
Kelly VanElders, director of landscape architecture for Olathe-based Landworks Studio, said the park has been designed to take advantage of some existing golf course greens, bunkers and cart paths, transforming them into playgrounds and walking trails — with some modifications, of course. The clubhouse would be retained and a pavilion added. A small amphitheater that could be the setting for concerts or weddings would be another addition to the clubhouse area.
The swimming pool would be filled in and turned into a lawn where tents could be erected for larger gatherings. Some of the tennis courts would be turned into pickleball courts, for which VanElders said the first meeting revealed a big demand. Pickleball is like a cross between tennis and ping pong, and a group of players demonstrated the sport outside the clubhouse during the Oct. 20 meeting.
Other park features are to include about nine shelters, a spray ground, a “grand lawn” and a handful of “iconic gardens” featuring sculptures. No formal sports fields are included.
The park trails would wrap around and through the development on the southern side of the old golf course. Three small lakes in the center of the area would be retained, the largest to be edged with stone.
Cliff Middleton, county park planning and development manager, said the plan for the city to cede the park to the county “makes perfect sense to me.”
He noted that Prairie Village has no parks department, as such, and that Meadowbrook would be larger than all the city’s existing parks put together. Prairie Village’s public works department maintains its parks.
“This will be a regional-type amenity,” Middleton said. “More than just Prairie Village residents will use it.”
A road would wind from 92nd Terrace and Nall Avenue to 91st Street and Roe Avenue, and that brought about the only negative comments or concerns heard during the public meeting.
One woman who lives on Roe Avenue but who asked not to be quoted by name said she was concerned about the number of car trips the development would generate onto her street, which is two lanes and already crowded at rush hour.
Dave Nordquist, who lives near 92nd Terrace and Nall, said he came to find out about plans for traffic flow.
“I love the park idea,” he said.
Rob Perszyk, who owns a home about six blocks west of the proposed development, said he thinks “it will be good for his property values in the area.”