Wednesday, June 11, 2014

King Louie building in Johnson County still unfunded

Posted By on Wed, Jun 11, 2014 at 3:36 PM

click to enlarge The de-throned, de-funded King Louie
  • The de-throned, de-funded King Louie
The Johnson County Board of Commissioners has a bowling problem, and its not foot faults or rolling gutter balls.

Rather, the county still owns the shuttered bowling facility and ice skating rink at 8788 Metcalf known as the King Louie West building. And it seems to have no clue what to do with it.

Last week, Johnson County Manager Hannes Zacharias sent his proposed budget to county commissioners for the upcoming fiscal year. It contemplated no funding for the King Louie building.

Johnson County Commissioners toward the end of 2011 bought the old King Louie building for a shade under $2 million, then spent another $1.6 million to keep the elements out of its new asset. But buttoning up the building to keep the rodents out is about as far as they county has gotten with this property.

Commissioners originally explained the purchase as a means to relocate the Johnson County Museum to a more appropriate facility than its current cramped quarters in Shawnee. Other ideas crossed their minds: a national museum dedicated to showcasing suburbia, an early voting center, a new space for the Enterprise Center of Johnson County.

None of those dreams have come to fruition. A change in political will brought new commissioners to the county, many of whom questioned the logic in the county's ownership of the dilapidated building. Proposed funding for the building last year got pulled when skeptical commissioners couldn't agree on committing $10 million to the project through a bond issuance.

One has to pity those Johnson County Museum workers, who continue to work in an off-the-beaten path facility that, despite its proneness to flooding, sees modest increases in attendance year-over-year. It looks like they will continue working in Shawnee for a while.

Every year King Louie sits unused, the more of a headscratcher it is that Johnson County bought it in the first place.

Why not just sell the thing?

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