Ewy Sharp rejected suggestions that, as chair of the Parks and Recreation Committee, she bore any special burden to point out that the material change had been made. The information was put forth in the packet all council members received, she said.
“I have always felt that council members were reading the support materials that are provided to them before the meetings,” she said. “If they are choosing not to read the materials before they vote on an issue, there’s nothing I can do about it. But any sense that there was an intention to be deceptive, that is an error.”
Ewy Sharp said that, to the best of her knowledge, the decision to move away from the split-rail fence that had been included in previous plans put before the council came directly from the engineering firm working on the project. The engineer was concerned that the split-rail fence would not adequately address safety concerns and believed that a chain link fence would.
Neither Public Works Project Manager Keith Bredehoeft nor Director Bruce McNabb made mention of the material change during the Oct. 3 meeting, either.
City Councilman Michael Kelly of Ward 3, which borders Brush Creek, voted in favor of the measure that allowed construction of the fence, but is unhappy with the material and how the project was put before the council. He says a lack of explicit communication from either the Parks and Recreation chair or Public Works staff about the material changes has led to a bad outcome.
“Every previous plan put forth to the council used split-rail,” he said. “I believe it’s the role and duty of the parks chair — and staff — to inform council members of a substantial material change to a previously presented project. It’s a simple failure of communication. The chain link fence is completely inappropriate for a city like Prairie Village.”
For her part, Ewy Sharp said the push back she’s heard about from neighborhood residents (she said she’s personally received just four emails and one phone call with negative reactions to the project) has led her to believe that the planning phase for future projects must include public input.
“I have personally learned that it is absolutely critical to have a neighborhood meeting on these trails projects,” she said.