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City of Lee’s Summit to buy Longview Recreation Center from community college

The city of Lee’s Summit has agreed to buy the Longview Recreation Center and plans to do an extensive renovation.
The city of Lee’s Summit has agreed to buy the Longview Recreation Center and plans to do an extensive renovation. Submitted photo

The city of Lee’s Summit has agreed to buy the Longview Recreation Center for $4.1 million in a move designed to provide fitness programs to residents on the west side of town.

City council members voted unanimously Thursday to allow the Lee’s Summit Parks and Recreation Board to buy the 60,000-square-foot building at 3801 S.W. Longview Road from the Metropolitan Community College of Kansas City’s Longview Campus.

The park board is borrowing the money from the city and will pay it back with interest over the next five years, said parks administrator Joe Snook.

Snook said the city will close the sale Sept. 1 and then begin a $1.5 million renovation of the 29-year-old center, which will include new exercise equipment and other infrastructure, as well as work on its 10-lane competition pool and dive well. He estimated the center would reopen in early to mid-November.

“We’re going to gut the whole thing, aesthetically bring it up to more modern colors and finishes … it’s going to get a complete makeover,” he said.

Once the center is open, the parks department hopes to attract residents within a seven- to 10-minute drive to buy individual memberships for $209 a year. That fee gives members access to facilities at Longview or the city’s other three centers: Legacy Park Community Center, Harris Park Community and Gamber Community Center.

Longview had about 800 members when MCC closed the center on Aug. 1, Snook said. He said he will send a letter to those members offering them a way to use exercise facilities at Legacy Park while they wait for Longview to reopen.

He estimated that the neighborhoods surrounding Longview mirror those around Legacy Park, which has 6,500 members and that Longview should be just as busy.

“It’s going to take some time to build up the membership, but I’m confident that we’re going to see similar usage patterns as at Legacy,” he said.

Snook said the city has needed a community center on the west side for some time and has discussed taking over the recreation center for several years, including leasing the facility or serving as a property manager. The idea of an outright purchase bubbled up again earlier this year during discussions he had with former MCC-Longview President Kirk Nooks.

Taking over the center is preferable to building one from scratch, which Snook estimated would cost between $12 million and $15 million.

“It doesn’t make sense to invest millions and millions of dollars into a facility when there’s one already there that can serve our community,” he said.

He added that the park board will use Longview to continue supporting MCC academics and athletics, providing facilities for the school’s volleyball, golf and cross-country teams, as well as physical education classes.

MCC Chancellor Kimberly Beatty said in a news release that the improvements will bring more people to the MCC-Longview campus.

“As MCC looks to the future we are optimizing our resources, and this agreement allows us to continue to benefit from this property, but also contributes to our ongoing mission of serving the community and creating opportunities not just for our students but also for the general public, all while providing equitable access,” she said.

In other business, the council voted 8-1 to provide financial incentives for Summit Square II, a 326-unit luxury apartment complex at the corner of N.E. Tudor Road and N.W. Ward Road.

NorthPoint Development has asked the city to sell almost $48.5 million industrial revenue bonds, which would allow the developer to buy construction materials without paying sales tax. The city would not be responsible for paying off the bonds.

In addition, NorthPoint plans to pay a “payment in lieu of tax” beginning at $1,135 a unit instead of regular property tax over the project’s first 12 years.

Council member Rob Binney voted against the incentives and said he didn’t think they were necessary. The council will hold a final vote on the incentives at a future meeting.

David Twiddy: