Thoughtful investment in our parks and greenspaces in Prairie Village is investment in the vitality of our community, our property values, and our local businesses. I believe that the Meadowbrook park project -- a public/private partnership that will allow our city to be home to one of the largest public parks in the region, is an example of a well conceived and (thus far) well executed land use project. Public participation and input was solicited and obtained early on, the city remained flexible in its approach, and in the final analysis PV taxpayers will receive a unique benefit to the community with zero tax increase. In contrast, I believe the Mission Chateau project was an example of a missed opportunity that was not consistent with a thoughtful and sustainable economic development plan for our city. Unlike the Mission Chateau debacle, it appears that the Meadowbrook park project will bring a new and well balanced development piece to our city that includes large amounts of public space and greenspace. In regard to the Meadowbrook project, I will work to ensure that the execution of the plan meets the promise. Our priority at every step of the development should be to ensure that attention is paid to maximizing the public accessibility of the park. We should never compromise the vision of the project to be a public park first and foremost.
If I am elected, I will approach future land use opportunities with a view toward increasing park and greenspace. For existing parks, I will be sensitive to the need to maintain greenspace. Before we build expensive new structures and other "attractions" that eliminate greenspace in our parks, I will work to make sure that we have ample evidence that any new construction that eliminates greenspace is desired by our residents and will be well and appropriately utilized.
At a recent council meeting, the suggestion of hiring a parks and recreation director was raised. Although, as with any investment, this matter should be evaluated for cost/benefit before any action is taken, I am inclined to support this idea. My research indicates that we are one of the only cities in NE Johnson County that does not have a parks and recreation director. Our parks are one of our greatest resources -- a resource in which we've invested large amounts of money. Hiring a professional to take charge of making sure our citizens are getting the best use of those parks is something we should closely consider. Generally, I think it is likely that hiring a city parks and recreation director would be a smart investment in terms of maximizing our return on the investment in our parks.