Prairie Vil­lage con­sid­ers ren­o­vat­ing Har­mon Park

The idea of in­stalling a per­ma­nent per­for­mance space at Har­mon Park is get­ting a sec­ond look. The project would pro­vide a stage for the an­nual Prairie Vil­lage Jaz­zFest.

The Kansas City Star - - News - BY DAVID TWIDDY Spe­cial to The Star

The Prairie Vil­lage City Coun­cil may have balked ear­lier this year at plans to ex­ten­sively ren­o­vate Har­mon Park, but the idea of in­stalling a per­ma­nent per­for­mance space there is get­ting a sec­ond look.

Coun­cil mem­bers on Mon­day voted 10-2 to move for­ward on a trio of projects in the park at West 77th Place and Del­mar Street. A fi­nal vote is sched­uled for a fu­ture meet­ing.

Among the projects is a pro­posal to build a 48by-40 foot con­crete per­for­mance pad on the cur­rent lo­ca­tion of the skate­board park south­west of City Hall. The slab would serve as a stage dur­ing the an­nual Prairie Vil­lage Jaz­zFest, re­plac­ing the tem­po­rary stage that or­ga­niz­ers in­stall over the skate park ev­ery year. But sup­port­ers said it could be used for other things, such as space for school plays, sum­mer­time movie nights or small mu­si­cal per­for­mances.

“We’ve dis­cussed a more per­ma­nent type struc­ture for years,” said coun­cil mem­ber Ted Odell. “I think this is a good start­ing point.”

Pub­lic Works Di­rec­tor Keith Bre­de­hoeft es­ti­mated it would cost around $100,000 to build the per­for­mance pad, sup­ply it with elec­tric­ity and mod­ify nearby fenc­ing so a con­ces­sion stand at the park’s pool com­plex could be used dur­ing events.

That money is not cur­rently in­cluded in the city’s bud­get, mean­ing Bre­de­hoeft would have to ar­gue for its in­clu­sion when the coun­cil adopts a new an­nual spend­ing plan for 2020 next year. He said he wouldn’t know the true cost for the project un­til he’d had more time to re­search it, adding that the cost could range be­tween $80,000 and $120,000.

Coun­cil mem­ber Brooke More­head said the coun­cil could con­sider ex­pand­ing the per­for­mance pad in the fu­ture to in­clude a shel­ter, a light­ing and sound sys­tem and equip­ment stor­age, mak­ing it closer in look and mis­sion to the am­phithe­ater pro­posed in the Vil­lage Square con­cept that the coun­cil de­bated and even­tu­ally shelved back in Fe­bru­ary.

That plan, pre­sented to the coun­cil by BBN Ar­chi­tects Inc., called for a num­ber of projects at Har­mon Park, in­clud­ing a per­ma­nent per­for­mance pav­il­ion, al­most 42,000 square feet of grass seat­ing, a walk­ing trail around the perime­ter of the park, a splash pad wa­ter fea­ture, a re­built skate park in a new lo­ca­tion and two new play­grounds, in­clud­ing an in­clu­sive play area that could ac­com­mo­date peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties.

BBN es­ti­mated the full Vil­lage Square con­cept would cost $5.2 mil­lion. Scaled-down ver­sions of the con­cept would have cost be­tween $3 mil­lion and $3.5 mil­lion.

More­head ac­knowl­edged those prices were “ridicu­lous” but that the coun­cil should stay fo­cused on build­ing a com­mu­nity gather­ing space.

“The whole con­cept was to bring every­body to­gether in the cen­ter of the city and that was the Vil­lage Square,” More­head said. “This (pro­posal) is pared down and will achieve the same thing.”

The mea­sure voted on Mon­day would ap­prove build­ing the in­clu­sive play­ground, ex­pected to cost $575,000 and be built be­tween the pool com­plex and the Har­mon Park ten­nis courts, and re­lo­cat­ing the skate park to a spot just north of the new Con­sol­i­dated Fire District No. 2 sta­tion, cur­rently un­der con­struc­tion, at a cost of $320,000.

Un­like the per­for­mance pad, the money for the in­clu­sive play­ground and the ren­o­vated skate park is al­ready in the city’s bud­get and has been on hold for years.

Coun­cil mem­ber Chad Her­ring said he had con­cerns about the per­for­mance pad project but said the other two items needed to move for­ward.

“I think we def­i­nitely need to do the play set and the skate park,” Her­ring said.

Coun­cil mem­bers Dan Ru­nion and Jori Nel­son voted against mov­ing the three projects ahead and said they didn’t un­der­stand the ne­ces­sity of build­ing a per­for­mance pad sep­a­rate from the skate park. They also said they wor­ried the project would re­duce over­all greenspace in the park and ques­tioned where the money would come from.

“I still see this as a ‘want’ and not a ‘need,’” Nel­son said. “With re­gard to the bath­house and the hun­dreds of thou­sands of dol­lars we need to re­pair our pool and what’s com­ing up in 2019-20 with re­paint­ing of the pool I just think we’ve got other items on our agenda that I think need to be funded.”

David Twiddy: dtwiddy913@gmail.com

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