Overland Park Mayor Carl Gerlach is beginning his 10th year in office, and this year looks to be a busy one, with plenty of development going on in the city.
Gerlach spoke about some of those development projects, including an indoor skydiving facility he is excited to try out, in his State of the City address on Tuesday.
Gerlach spoke with Up To Date host Steve Kraske on Wednesday about some of the city's successes and ongoing challenges. Below are some excerpts of the conversation.
On the benefits of nearly 30 years with a triple-A bond rating:
“That is something that has been very important to Overland Park. What happens is, the better the bond rating, the lower the interest rate. All cities have to borrow money to build long term projects, and roads you spend millions of dollars on. The higher the rating you get, the lower interest rates you pay. People will be willing to invest in your bonds, and that saves the taxpayers a lot of money.”
On some new development projects in the area:
Though the mayor mentioned his excitement about the development of the Metcalf South Center, he spoke about some progress in other parts of the city.
“One of the largest mixed-use development projects in the entire metro area, called Blue Hawk, is happening out at 159th and 69 highway. Blue Hawk is going to be mixed-use, it will have a combination of single family and apartments, it will have retail. But they’ll also put together foot golf courses, Frisbee golf courses, and they’re trying to get the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center to open a separate site."
“The Overland Park Trade Center, which has been around for years, has been bought by a company that is going to redevelop it into office space — they have an agreement with Black and Veatch. They’re going to move 700 employees into a new office building.... They aren't just building an office park; they’re going to take the center and offer new services (such as) auto detailing, dry cleaning, a shoe-shine shop, fitness centers.... This will be part of an office park, giving an experience to that worker today and the future worker.”
On the growing poverty rate in Johnson County:
“Its something that we continue to work on. We work with our school districts on the free and reduced lunch programs. We actually have some apartments where we work with developers on low income housing."
If someone is having trouble maintaining a home in a neighborhood, the mayor said the city can offer resources.
“We’ll work with them and offer low interest rates to borrow money and invest and keep their property up ... People sometimes think of Johnson County and think, ‘Oh, everything is wonderful in Johnson County,’ but we're like any other community across the nation. We’ve got a mix of everything. And that’s good to work with, and that diversity actually helps."