Flashy public buildings have never been a part of Fairway’s cityscape. City hall is nestled anonymously inside an office building, invisible to passers-by on Shawnee Mission Parkway. The public works buildings sit just a few feet away in what looks like a couple of private businesses.
Recently the city found perhaps the ultimate way to have a small public footprint. It’s relocating its public works operations to a bigger building — in Roeland Park.
The city had been planning for a while to do something about its public works facility, which consists of three small buildings at 5505 Buena Vista St., said City Administrator Kathy Axelson. The trio of buildings date to the 1950s and ’60s, were in need of repair and had outlived their usefulness, she said.
The buildings, sitting on less than an acre, each have a different purpose. One houses some administrative offices, another keeps parts and equipment and the third is storage for road salt.
The city originally planned to tear them down and build a new facility on the lot, Axelson said. As part of that plan, public works was included in last year’s successful mail-in ballot seeking a half-cent sales tax increase for improvements to the Fairway swimming pool.
Once the sales tax was approved, the city began looking for a temporary spot to move its public works while the demolition and construction took place. It was then that officials stumbled upon a building in Roeland Park that was for sale or lease.
The site, 4717 Roe Parkway, appealed to officials. “It had everything they were looking for and then some,” Axelson said. The building has close to 11,000 square feet and sits on about 2.3 acres, she said. That comes close to doubling the size of public works’ space, which is now around 6,000 square feet in the three buildings combined.
The city bought it for about $800,000.
The new space also will allow some sharing between the two cities, she said, since it also happens to be right next door to Roeland Park’s public works facility. The two cities have been considering a shared salt dome, for instance, she said.
Another advantage is that the building doesn’t need major renovation, Axelson said. The city will put in new garage doors and some improvements for office space and accessibility.
City officials hope to have the new space open by this fall. They have not yet decided what to do with the current public works buildings.