Joco Opinion

Editorial: Nail down details on new park

The Editorial Board

The plan to put a park and a housing development at the site of the former Meadowbrook Golf and Country Club recently took a step forward.

But Prairie Village officials also got some disconcerting news.

On the positive front, the Shawnee Mission School District has declined to use its authority to kill a financing plan for buying the parkland.

Under the developer’s proposal, future tax revenues created by the new housing will be diverted from schools through tax increment financing. Some district officials were concerned about how that could affect their ability to provide a high quality education in the future.

But at a special meeting two weeks ago, the board of education essentially endorsed the Meadowbrook project.

Notably, Prairie Village officials did promise not to extend the TIF plan any longer than it takes — which could be about 20 years — to pay off bonds issued to buy parkland. City officials must respect that pledge.

On a negative note, city leaders recently learned that the size of the proposed park has shrunk about 6 percent from earlier estimates, down to 83.9 acres.

VanTrust Real Estate, the developer that controls the Meadowbrook plan, wants to take a little more of the land it owns to build single-family homes on a slightly larger lots than first thought. This move reportedly could boost property tax revenues, making it more likely that the park bonds could be paid off as scheduled.

Prairie Village officials have not yet approved any final redevelopment or rezoning requests from VanTrust. A month or two more of negotiations and fact-finding remain.

The city, on behalf of current and future residents, must nail down more details to try to avoid future surprises in the size of the park and to clearly spell out how the purchase will proceed.