about proposed center
by Kim Tiefenthaler
A community forum to discuss the pros and cons of building
a community center on the Platte County R-3 School District
campus attracted approximately 70 community members, parents,
and school staff at the Platte County R-3 Wilson Performing
Arts Center on Thursday night.
Community members came to voice their opinions, questions
and concerns regarding the proposition of a community
center on 10-acres of school property to the members of
the Platte County R-3 School Board.
Mark Harpst, superintendent of Platte County R-3 School
District, began the forum with an information handout
concerning the most asked questions about the proposed
The information covered a wide range of topics from why
the district is considering this proposal, to how the
project would be funded and if a bond issue would be required
to support the project.
Harpst verbally explained the information provided on
the handout in detail and then opened the floor up to
questions, comments and concerns.
A concern for many people in attendance was the maintenance
of the facility. Harpst reassured everyone that the only
responsibility the district would have regarding the facility
would be the gift of land if the issue were to pass.
"The district wouldn't have any obligation for maintenance
or operation of the facility," stated Harpst. "The
YMCA is the current operating agent under the current
A related concern was how the school could ensure it
would be able to gain the most optimal use from the community
center once it was built.
Harpst responded: "We will not put two million dollars
in bond money in the project and not walk away feeling
pleased. It would be said up front and in the contract
of who has the rights to the facility, when it gets used
by the district and how."
With the expected continuing growth of the district,
patrons expressed concerns if the site could possibly
be used for another schoolinstead of having their students
shipped by bus to Barry Road or another site a distance
from the current campus.
Stan Palmer responded to the future possibility of bussing
the students, "I'm all for the community center but
I think the land should be better used for the school.
We need to keep all our other sites within two to three
miles of the current campus."
Harpst explained that with the current traffic congestion
that is at the campus, the land wouldn't be considered
for another school. He continued that the district does
have other options open to them when enrollment warrants
The site Harpst referred to is 30-acres of land offered
by Tiffany Springs when the enrollment makes the need
apparent in the future. Reassurance came that that offer
is in the future and is just an offer, no decisions have
been made regarding that site or others in the area.
In 1988, the Platte City campus held 600 students, today
the campus has 1,700 students, which doesn't include the
"We're only beginning to touch our growth, imagine
where we'll be in 10 years, its scary," stated Harpst.
"In three to 10 years, the high school will probably
occupy the middle school. At this time that is all speculation.
It all depends on growth."
A tax increase was also at the forefront of the discussion.
According to Harpst, he doesn't feel there would be a
tax increase issue.
The school district is estimated to contribute $2-3 million
to the project. However, if significantly more funds were
needed, a tax increase may be needed but that would require
voter approval by the patrons of the school district.
Discussion of the City of Platte City's involvement with
the proposed community center was also brought to the
forum. Currently, the project would be a collaborative
effort between the school district and the county. The
Platte County Parks and Recreation sales tax would contribute
a minimum of $7 million and the Platte County R-3 School
District would contribute a minimum of $2 million.
Harpst was asked if the City of Platte City is interested
in a contribution to the project. Harpst simply responded
that, "I asked and the invitation wasn't extended
by the mutual parties."
Alicia Stevens, a wife of a Platte City Parks and Recreation
board member responded that even though the money support
may not be there from the city that their parks and rec
department is very supportive of the issue. "Is Platte
City here with you not necessarily, but is Platte City
Parks and Rec with you, yes they are."
Harpst compared the proposed facility to the $14 million
community center built in North Kansas City. Harpst stated
that that type of facility is what is being considered
for Platte City, and invited people from the community
to tour that facility when wanting to get a vision of
what may be developed.
Overall Harpst felt the forum accomplished what the board
set out to do.
"I was very pleased with the turnout and I felt
there was good interaction between the board and the people
that attended. I feel we accomplished what we set out
to do and that was two fold, to set information to people
on what was being considered and to hear from people what
they felt regarding the project," said Harpst.
Harpst stated that the board will spend the next few
months pondering the pros and cons, as well as the thoughts
expressed by people at the forum before making any final