Northeast Joco

Prairie Village moves forward on buying church property for future park

The Prairie Village City Council is moving ahead with plans to buy the site of Faith Lutheran Church for a future park.

Council members on Monday voted 8-2 on a purchase agreement for the almost three acres at 4805 W. 67th St. The city agreed to pay $1.1 million for the property if it passes routine legal and environmental review.

If it does, City Administrator Quinn Bennion said the city wouldn’t take possession of the land until next October.

He also noted that the $1.1 million, coming from the city’s $1.8 million economic development fund, would cover only the cost of the land, and that city officials will need to find additional money to pay for demolishing the church building and designing and constructing the park.

As part of the purchase, the city must agree to spend up to $10,000 to include a commemorative plaque or other monument to recognize the history of the church property.

Those supporting the purchase said the site would fill a need for park space in the north part of the Prairie Village, which city planning documents have demanded for many years.

“It’s a unique opportunity,” said Councilman Eric Mikkelson. “I think we should move as quickly as we reasonably and prudently can after we buy it to do the demolition and build the park.”

Councilmembers Brooke Morehead and Andrew Wang voted against the deal.

Morehead said she would prefer seeing the city use the money on the Village Square project, a proposed expansion of Harmon Park in the heart of the city that would include an amphitheater, skating rink and other amenities. The city is planning to conduct a concept study of the Village Square concept.

Wang said he felt the city doesn’t need more parks and should focus on necessities such as roads, sidewalks and sewers.

“We’re not getting a park for $1.1 million; we’re making a downpayment on a program that we have yet to figure out how to fund,” Wang said. “I’m just not supportive because I think there are better ways to spend these funds to make a larger impact on all the people of Prairie Village.”

David Twiddy: