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New Prairie Village community center? City moves slowly after Shawnee’s was shot down

Community Center in Prairie Village

The Prairie Village City Council will vote Monday on whether to partner with the YMCA and Johnson County library to study whether to build a new community center with an indoor aquatic center. It would be built near Mission Road and West 79th Street.
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The Prairie Village City Council will vote Monday on whether to partner with the YMCA and Johnson County library to study whether to build a new community center with an indoor aquatic center. It would be built near Mission Road and West 79th Street.

Prairie Village is set to take a first, small, tentative step toward building a new community center.

The city’s caution comes less than two months after voters in another Johnson County suburb, Shawnee, overwhelmingly rejected a plan for a $38 million community center. So for now, officials just want to gauge the public’s appetite for such a project.

The Prairie Village City Council will vote Monday on whether to contribute to a $50,000 partnership with the YMCA and the Johnson County Library to pay for a feasibility study from an outside consultant. The city and county would each pay $20,000, with the YMCA chipping in the last $10,000. The study would determine whether the public wants a new community center, what amenities it should include and how much it should cost. The proposal sets Sept. 30 as the deadline to start the study.

The Paul Henson Family YMCA, at West 79th Street and Mission Road, and the library’s Corinth branch two blocks to the south need to update their facilities. The city would work with them to make one big community center to serve everybody. Prairie Village already has a small community center just to the north, near city hall and police headquarters, but this would be a significant upgrade. The proposed site is near the YMCA’s current location, between Mission and Delmar Street.

The city has a large outdoor pool complex nearby but no municipal indoor aquatic center.

Fellow Johnson County cities Lenexa, Olathe, Roeland Park, De Soto, Mission and Overland Park each have community centers. Shawnee had proposed an aquatic and exercise center including a lazy river, all funded by a property tax increase. When it was put to a public vote in May, the city discovered an unexpected wellspring of opposition, with 72% saying no.

Asked if Prairie Village is moving gingerly because of the Shawnee vote, Assistant City Administrator Alley Porter paused for about 10 seconds before answering.

“I think we would do this regardless,” she said.

“Whenever there’s things like that you certainly want to take lessons learned from other communities when you can. But we understand our community is different, and so we’ll see if that’s an amenity that they want to see.”

The Prairie Village City Council will meet 6 p.m. Monday at the Municipal Building, 7700 Mission Road.

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