Prairie Village is making progress with its designs for a new park at 67th Street and Roe Avenue, but hopes of preserving the steeple from the former church on the site won’t be realized.
City Councilman Chad Herring told neighbors that the bell tower/steeple from the former Faith Lutheran Church is unstable and must be demolished.
“We were disappointed by that,” Herring told a small group of neighbors at an Oct. 6 meeting to discuss development of North Park on the 3-acre site formerly occupied by Faith Lutheran.
Herring also said that a drainage channel behind the property remains a concern, and the city is still seeking solutions to ensure children’s safety.
Herring said the culvert and channel can fill with water in heavy rains. Kate Faerber, who lives nearby, agreed. She said teenagers have sometimes been seen in the area near the channel, and the risk would be even higher if young children wander there after using the playground in the new park.
Herring said a steering committee working on park plans has asked BBN Architects to draw up a landscaping proposal, with plants and shrubs that would be hard to get through.
“We’re not sure landscaping is going to be sufficient to impede access but that’s where we are right now,” he said, adding that fencing or some other type of barrier could also be an option. “Personally, I think the proximity of the playground to the culvert requires us to do something with that space and to inhibit kids from getting in there. “
The park will include picnic shelters, playground areas suitable for infants and children up to age 12, restrooms, an open grassy area large enough for a soccer game, plus a 37-space parking lot. The design will also include a bronze plaque or some sort of historical marker to commemorate the church.
The site includes a few shade trees, but Herring said discussions continue on how to try to ensure the playground equipment isn’t too hot during sweltering summer days.
Neighbors were generally enthusiastic about the park. Faerber said she was particularly excited about plans for a garden that would be managed by Wonderscope Master Gardeners.
The city bought the church property for $1.1 million and the church was demolished this summer. The city had hoped to somehow incorporate the steeple into the park features, but after the rest of the church was torn down, it was deemed to be too unstable.
The demolition and construction are budgeted to cost about $1 million, and the design is expected to meet that budget.
Herring said another public hearing will be scheduled soon. The steering committee hopes the City Council will approve the design before the end of the year. Planners hope the park can open in spring or summer 2019.