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Eileen Marshall, chair


Observer Corps iconJohnson County Library

June 13

Karen Wulfkuhle

The Library has established a timeline for the new Antioch Library, which will be one block north of the current library location. Anticipated opening is fourth quarter 2023. An informal agreement is being developed between the Library, City of Prairie Village and the YMCA to study the possibility of constructing a new Johnson County library facility on land that is in closer proximity to the city’s parks, swimming pools and tennis courts.

The board is considering three options for improvements to the Central Library. Goals are to:

  • improve system and branch material flow
  • accommodate incoming system-wide staff from Antioch
  • create workspaces that facilitate cooperation and allow future flexibility
  • optimize adjacencies
  • split branch and system functions

Cost estimates range from $2.6 million to $8.3 million. A decision will be made at the July meeting.

For more information, read the agenda and minutes.


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Mental Health Center (MHC) Advisory Board Meetings

March 25 and May 20

Harry and Mary Bognich

March: Susan Rome presented an overview of CARP (Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities) and how two surveyors would be coming in April to interview staff, assess facilities, etc. The vision is to improve quality of life of people served. The mission is to document and get accreditation for what MHC does. Benefits of accreditation: helps to get grants, business improvement, accountability, positive visibility, peer network (connect with other accredited agencies) and potential insurance discounts.

Tanner Fortney presented the first annual performance report for JoCo MHC (30 pages), which staff titled as “Mental Health 360” since “it provides a complete view of the department through primary indicators associated with each service level.”

Director Tim DeWeese reported that middle and high school students will be offered a chance to participate in EVERFI through four 10-minute self-paced digital lessons providing students with the knowledge and tools needed to take care of their mental wellness.

May: The CARF visit/assessment in April went very well; final results are not yet in.

MHC is receiving an increase in state funding, which is great, but it actually just gets MHC back only to what the state funding was in 2008 (a decade ago), so it is far short of what is needed.

The MHC 2020 proposed county budget was sent to the county commissioners on May 2 by the county manager’s office. Four of the eight FTE’s requested by MHC are funded in the proposed budget even though MHC is far short of FTE’s (namely, 65) as compared to 2011, despite the fact that the county’s population has continued to grow. MHC is meeting with commissioners about the proposed budget on May 23.

Important Date: Johnson County residents need to contact their county representatives before the public hearing on the proposed 2020 budget on Monday, July 29 at 7 p.m. They can also provide comments at the hearing if they feel that the budget does not address mental health or other services. Commissioner Becky Fast reported to the MHC Advisory Board that the recent Johnson County citizen survey said that human services and mental health should be top priorities for Johnson County.

For more information, read the agenda and minutes.


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Johnson County Parks and Recreation Division

June 19

Cindy Stephens

Martin Rivarola of the Mid-American Regional Council gave a presentation about the Regional Bikeway Plan for 2,000 miles of land use for on- and off-road transportation and recreation in the counties of Leavenworth, Wyandotte, Johnson, Miami, Platte, Clay, Jackson and Cass. Grants can be requested from the federal government.

Paul Schultz, general manager of Trek, as well as other residents talked about the health benefits of riding E-bikes on county trails. Class 1 E-bikes have a maximum speed of 20 mph. Class 3 E-bikes have a maximum speed of 28 mph. Bikers must peddle the bikes for them to work. Standard bikes can have a downhill speed of 30 to 40 mph. A six-month test on the Gary L. Haller Trail will be reviewed for the possible reversal of the board’s previous decision to ban E-bikes. The ban on scooters and on unicycles will remain. If E-bikes are allowed in the future, rules must be created, signs must be posted, and stripes must be painted in the middle of the trails to help separate the walkers and the bikers.

Brett Spangler, landscape architect at Vireo, presented the Camp Branch Master Plan.  The park of 200 acres is located west of Mission Road from 175th Street to 183rd Street. There will be areas for watershed, woodlands, wildflower prairies, nature play, passive play, a paved trail and a parking lot. The grand total cost is $7,941,000.

The Johnson County Commission denied an increase in the mill rate request on the JCPRD budget for updating the sport fields. Fred Logan, JCPRD legal counsel, clarified the capital and financial rules between Johnson County and the JCPRD.

Jill Geller, executive director, announced the Meadowbrook open house on Saturday, June 22, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Also the Kansas City Star published an article about the JCPRD’s biologist seed collection.

For more information, read the agenda and minutes.


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Lenexa City Council

June 4

Jill Quigley

The council unanimously approved a revision to the final plan for The Yard development. The Yard is a mixed-use development that includes office, restaurant and entertainment space. There will be a large outdoor patio with leisure sport courts, a fire pit, outdoor seating and gathering spaces. It will be an L-shaped building on the southeast corner of Renner Avenue and 87th Street Parkway (City Center, East Village). The revisions include the addition of another floor (11,600 sq. ft.) meeting the area’s desire for increased density, 38 additional parking spaces, 12 additional on-street parking spaces and removal of a host stand and restrooms. The applicant is Chip Corcoran of Renaissance Infrastructure Consulting.

The council discussed a substantial change to the 2018 Annual Action Plan for the Community Development Block Grant program. Over $161,000 was originally allocated for renovations at the Lenexa Community and Senior Centers. However, the city will not be able to expend the funds within the required time limit. It is therefore recommended that the funds instead be used to purchase 20 LED streetlights for the Old Town Lenexa area. A 30-day public comment period will follow.

The mayor proclaimed June as Lenexa Barbeque Month, recognizing that Lenexa held its first barbeque competition 37 years ago.

For more information, see the agenda and board packet.


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Prairie Village City Council

Eileen Marshall

June 3

Notable items:

  1. The mayor signed a proclamation endorsing National Gun Violence Awareness Day, which is June 7 this year.
  2. State Senator Barbara Bollier and Representatives Stogsdill, Clayton, and Xu presented an update on this year’s session of the Kansas Legislature.
  3. The city’s financial audit covering 2018 was presented. In the auditors’ opinion, the city’s financial processes are in order and the resulting financial statements are accurate.
  4. The Police Chief reported that the PV Police Department will soon have a mental health co-responder, shared with the Leawood PD.
  5. The budget for 2020 was discussed. At the last meeting, which your observer was unable to attend, the minutes indicate that city staff presented a budget (approved by the Finance Committee of the Council) that proposed ending the 2020 budget year with a reserve, fully funding all approved department requests and reducing the mill levy by 1 mill. At that meeting, the council unexpectedly voted 8 to 4 to leave the mill levy at its current level, thereby raising more funds that could be put to use by the city. The vote split and surrounding comments reveal deep disagreement among council members with regard to this move. At the June 3 meeting, the council voted to add the “extra” unallocated funds to the General Fund and decide later how they should be spent.

June 17

This meeting was cancelled for lack of a quorum. Many of the council members were attending a memorial service.

For more information, read the agenda and minutes.