His reason might seem a bit simple, but Joe Thomas can still see how Grain Valley city facilities are getting too crowded as the city's population grows.
“I play pickleball at the Community Center, and if we had more courts we'd have more people able to play,” Thomas said. “Pickleball's one of the fastest-growing sports.”
A new, larger community center is part of the plan for a municipal complex the city hopes to build at the former Sni-A-Bar Farm northwest of Buckner-Tarsney Road and Sni-A-Bar Boulevard.
For several years, city officials have been working on the idea. Tuesday, they hosted a community meeting in the gymnasium at Sni-A-Bar Elementary, both to gauge the public's desire for such a project and a possible preferred design.
The city's population has more than doubled since 2000 to more than 14,000 by recent census estimates. Any campus would include a new city hall and municipal court, new police station, new recreation center with indoor pool and a new parks and recreation building.
“We've definitely reached a point of outgrowing them, and they're starting to show wear and tear,” Assistant City Manager Theresa Osenbaugh told the crowd of a couple hundred, before James Stufflebeam of Sapp Design Architects and Doug Stockman of Helix Architecture+Designs explained the three basic designs developed thus far.
The city estimates that would cost $37 million to $41 million, of which $32 million to 39 million would be funded by bonds that would not require a tax increase. Various partnership opportunities could net another $5 million to $8 million.
The city hopes to have preliminary designs in hand if it puts a bond question on the April ballot.
A new Mid-Continent Public Library branch, replacing the current facility next to El Maguey restaurant, also would be part of the campus, but MCPL has committed to building that itself.
Of the attendees who participated in the real-time survey on their smartphones, about two-thirds said the city needs a new municipal complex like this, with a near-even split among their other options – they would support it on the ballot, needed more information or didn't think it was needed now.
In each design, City Hall and the police and parks and recreation buildings are generally grouped together on the east side just off Buckner-Tarsney. The recreation center and future outdoor swimming pool are either just west of the current house site or just north of it. The library would be somewhere in between the two sets of buildings, and all those buildings would have room to expand.
The crowd's preferred design shows the drive and parking areas in a zig-zag fashion, with the library on the opposite side of everything else. Second choice was an arc-like design. Another option had parking areas and building in modular grid layout.
Stockman said the current main house structure is mostly non-original and has become too dilapidated to renovate. Instead, the area will be used for a playground and splash pad.
“We'll retain the footprint and some parts of the house,” Stockman said.
In all designs, an amphitheater would be added in the future and the northeast corner of the property would be used for future ball fields.
“I really like the whole setup. I really hope they can extend (the rec center) more,” Thomas said.
Joyce McMurray, who along with her husband had been using the Blue Springs YMCA, said she's “extremely excited” by the overall plan.
“I can't wait to see where we go from here,” she said.
Osenbaugh said the city and the Greater Kansas City YMCA have been soliciting feedback on a possible partnership with the new recreation center.