Joco Opinion

Election offers Shawnee residents chance to support community center

Stephanie Meyer
Stephanie Meyer

In the early part of May, residents of Shawnee will have the opportunity to voice their support of a proposed community center. This project, which is more than a decade in the making, will certainly be a turning point for our city in terms of recreational amenities, but I believe it will also be an important next step in continuing our forward momentum.

I didn’t grow up with a community center, or really anything resembling it.

My single, working class mother was certainly more concerned with making ends meet every month than she was whether we had the opportunity to go swimming or how often she got to work out.

But my family wanted better. And so did I. After finishing college, when my husband and I were looking for our first home, Shawnee was a natural choice. With all of the assets of a large metro, and more character than you’ll find nearly anywhere, I knew this was where I would lay down roots and raise a family. I’ve met countless residents of our city who feel the same way.

They came to Shawnee because they wanted the opportunities and activities of the broader Kansas City region, with the small-town feel we all love.

But just as businesses must evolve and change to meet modern demands, so must cities.

In the more than five years I’ve been honored to serve on our city council, the potential community center has been the number one issue I’ve heard from my constituents. And while many have been frustrated by the delay in getting to this ballot, I appreciate it because it gave us the opportunity to weather the recession without raises raising taxes.

And in the years since, we’ve made important investments in our police, fire and public safety. I’m proud of the work we’ve done, all while maintaining a stellar credit rating and a rainy-day fund well above the national standard.

The proposed community center is a natural extension of this investment.

Located very near the geographical center of Shawnee and no more than 13 minutes from any home in town, it is ideally situated along our existing trails system, with access to Mid-America Ball Fields, the Ice Center, sand volleyball and Stump Park soccer fields.

A welcome addition to this “Valley of Champions,” it will boast a state-of-the-art aquatic center with recreational pool, lap pool, splash pad, walking/jogging track, two court multi-activity gym, fitness center, group fitness studios, indoor playground, party rooms, indoor turf for soccer and cycle cross track, as well as additional outdoor amenities that are available to non-members.

So many of our residents who are now forced to use centers in other cities are ready to bring those dollars home to Shawnee. They are ready to make an additional investment in the city they love, as am I. When the ballot arrives in your mailbox this May, I hope you’ll join us in voting yes to continue to move our city forward.

Stephanie Meyer is the president of the Shawnee City Council.