The definition of visionary is “having or marked by foresight and imagination.”
Overland Park’s founders were visionary and took bold steps to plan for the future we enjoy today. This includes top rated educational institutions, leading healthcare providers, expansive road networks, and extensive infrastructure, service and amenities.
In the early 1960s, when the city was still in its formative years, leaders of the community saw the need for an institute of higher education and imagined a local college. They took bold steps in pursuing this vision, even in the face of opposition from some residents who believed that the costs would outweigh the benefits. After a six year process that included a county-wide needs assessment, a special election, and funding approval, the first classes of Johnson County Community College were held in 1969 in a leased space. Three years later, in the fall of 1972, classes were finally moved onto the JCCC campus that we know today. Thanks to the foresight and imagination of our predecessors in Overland Park, Johnson County Community College is now one of the top 5 secondary institutions in the state of Kansas. Although this big idea was considered somewhat risky and unpopular at its inception, today it’s difficult to imagine Overland Park without Johnson County Community College.
Leaders of Overland Park have also been intentional about growth and planned expansion. Because of visionary leadership, big decisions and thoughtful stewardship, Overland Park has grown from 28,085 people in 1960 to over 192,000 people in 2018 and enjoys a strong reputation as a leading place to live and work.
We are at another pivotal point in our history. The rate of change happening in the world related to technology, transportation, and preferences for how we live and shop creates challenges and opportunities. It creates some uncertainty as well, but we do know that what we have done for the past 50 years won’t necessarily guarantee success in the next 10, 20 or 50 years. It is time once again to think big about the future of Overland Park. What do we want to be in the future? What bold steps do we take now to ensure we continue to be a high-quality community for future generations?