An Old Town Lenexa plan with new green space for community events, an expanded community center to include space for seniors and reconfigured traffic and parking has emerged as the favorite of residents.
Consultants Chris Cline and Vicki Noteis, who are working with the city to come up with a revitalization plan for Old Town, used opinions of residents to refine a plan for the historic section of Lenexa near the intersection of Santa Fe Trail Drive and Pflumm Road, just north of 95th Street. They presented their findings at a meeting last week.
The historic area is centered on Lenexa’s original business district and bisected by the BNSF railroad tracks, which separate the business district from homes and the community center.
At a meeting in February, residents were presented with several options for parking and street configuration and architecture. Based on their comments, consultants have since narrowed things down to a plan that would expand the small community center so that senior activities could be held there. Senior meals and other events are now held in a small building just west of the community center.
That would free up the space that building occupies for some type of common area, with a design yet to be determined. Some possible uses mentioned were outdoor movie showings, a food truck zone, pop-up café or pavilion. The plan also has a space for another event area on the north side of the tracks.
Earlier plans had proposed major changes in traffic flow that would eliminate the railroad crossing at Noland Road and replace it with another one farther west and closer to the shops. But residents have said they don’t like that idea, so it was removed from the plan, Cline said.
“We heard you loud and clear,” he said.
Also under consideration is a proposal to realign Santa Fe Trail Drive, the main street parallel to the tracks. That street used to run closer to the shops, but was moved in the 1980s to be farther away from their front doors. Now, traffic on Santa Fe Trail Drive is separated by curbing and landscaping from parking spaces in front of the stores. The consultants have suggested that putting the street back closer to where it was, with bigger sidewalks in front of the shops, might slow traffic a little and bring in more customers.
One such proposal puts sidewalks, landscaping and bikeways in the area that would be expanded if the street were moved.
The consultants suggested other things as well, including changes to maximize other parking north and west of the shops, increased attention to back shop entrances from that parking and improved signs that would promote the Old Town area.
There was also some support among residents for a quiet zone at the railroad crossings, but Cline and Noteis cautioned that quiet zones are a long and sometimes expensive process.
They also warned that the plans being discussed will not necessarily mean construction in the near future. The plan is more of a document that shows the city’s intent for how the Old Town area should be redeveloped, they said. Future action would depend on more money and cooperation from private landowners.
The plans are being drawn up with money from a $41,000 grant from the Mid-America Regional Council’s Planning Sustainable Places program, plus a matching $20,500 from the city. The plan is also focused on “multi-modal” street systems which include pedestrian and bicycle connections.
Consultants are Confluence, Collins Noteis and Associates and Wilson and Company.
About 70 people braved approaching thunderstorms to listen to the plan update last week. Most did not linger afterward to log in their thoughts, preferring to take the comment cards home or fill out a questionnaire online.
Next, a special city committee will review the plan this month. The final version will be considered by the Lenexa Planning Commission June 6.
Roxie Hammill: firstname.lastname@example.org