We are neighbors, old friends, and new acquaintances from the tri-city area (Westwood, Westwood Hills, and Mission Woods) who came together a few months ago to have our voices heard by Westwood's governing body — with the simple goal of preserving and expanding Westwood's green space.

Westwood is a warm and welcoming city in Johnson County. The Council’s desire to further increase commercial development by allowing it in a residentially zoned (until their recent vote) area is just not practical in our small community!

We invite you to join the hundreds of other citizens who are speaking out about the future of Westwood.

Petition Update

The City of Westwood filed a petition on January 18 for our protest petitions to be declared invalid and for the Court to declare that Kansas law regarding the sale of public parks does not apply to our park. The City's lawsuit named the county and state as the defendants.  Since it was anticipated that neither of those parties would defend us (in fact, neither of them took any position in the matter), and no individual residents or resident organizations were named as parties, our attorneys filed a motion to allow us to intervene and testify on our own behalf. The Court's decision was that the protest petitions were invalid, they denied our motion to intervene, but they did not rule on the sale of the park, citing insufficient evidence.

Our attorneys filed an appeal of the dismissal of the motion to intervene on February 28. In a typical appeals process, there is no daily or even weekly action to report. Thirty days or more can elapse between the successive actions that take place. We will keep you updated about any action as it happens and also give you any information we have about upcoming deadlines to help you follow the process.

The appeal may take some time to work its way through the courts, and several different outcomes are possible, but we maintain the ONLY outcome we are looking for -- and have always been looking for -- is the opportunity for Westwood residents to vote on the motion to sell the park...or for the City to not sell the park.

First Amendment Concerns

On November 8, 2023, the City of Westwood sent a cease-and-desist letter to the lawyer representing residents who oppose the proposed development, threatening legal action. When brought to the attention of the Kansas Justice Institute (KJI), a public-interest litigation firm protecting the freedoms guaranteed by the Kansas and United States Constitutions, they sent a letter to the Westwood City Attorney. In their rebuke, Sam MacRoberts, General Council and Litigation Director of the KJI, wrote,

“…the City of Westwood’s letter is heavy-handed, unacceptable, and antithetical to the First Amendment. Accordingly, as to those portions of the letter that implicate the First Amendment, they should be immediately—and publicly—withdrawn.”

Mr. MacRoberts went on to say in a public statement, “It doesn’t matter what side of the debate you’re on, what matters is that you’re able to debate it without being threatened with a lawsuit by the government,” and that, “The City of Westwood should immediately—and publicly—withdraw its threatening letter and affirm the right of the people to speak freely on matters of public concern.”

To learn more about the Kansas Justice Institute and to see their Media Release regarding this issue, check out the Westwood - Free Speech page on the KJI website.


With the sale of the former Westwood View Elementary School land impending, now is the time for the City of Westwood to buy.

The City has a choice:

                 ● Expand the existing 0.9-acre park by over 9X or
                 ● Allow a private developer to build multiple multi-story office buildings

drawing of use spaces in one park expansion option

We would like to see further discussions to enlarge the park to over 8 acres...and we're not the only ones. Experts at the Urban Land Institute (ULI) agree. In their 2021 report they recommended the City of Westwood "Acquire Westwood View elementary school property for park expansion and new civic area."

This is one example of what the park expansion could be (taken from the ULI 's 2021 report "Redevelopment Opportunities for the City of Westwood, Kansas").

For those unfamiliar, on October 12th, 2023, the Westwood City Council voted to approve the rezoning and sale of Westwood park land for a commercial development to be built on the site of Mayor Joe D. Dennis Park (herein, the Park). The land for Joe D. Dennis Park was sold to the City of Westwood in 1969 by Fred D Ellis and Bessie Mae Ellis; at this time, it was known as "Westwood Park." In 1973, after receiving Federal funding through HUD, the park was dedicated on October 6, 1973. On July 3, 2002, the park was rededicated as the Joe D Dennis Park after the mayor of Westwood. This parkland has been the jewel of our community for more than 50 years. It is our hope that it remains a city park.

The proposed development spans W 50th Street to W. 51st Street along Rainbow Boulevard and west past Adams Street, encompassing the Park, the adjacent vacant green space (formerly Westwood Christian Church), and part of the former Westwood View Elementary site. It includes two surface parking lots, a below-ground parking garage, four two- to four-story buildings and two one-story buildings.

We, Friends of Westwood Parkland, oppose this rezoning and over the past several months have made several appeals to slow down this plan that was quickly pushed through by Westwood's governing body, this plan that did not include adequate investigation of other options (for development and funding), nor an actual bid process for the selection of developer and the sale/transfer of the public land. When public park land is up for a sale/transfer, a public vote can be required. It is the right and just thing to do. And it's the law.

Though the Westwood City Council vote to move forward this commercial development passed 5 – 1, a statute in Kansas law (12-1301) regarding "Land for park purposes; sales or exchanges in connection with parks" allows the opportunity to file a protest petition, enforcing a citywide vote to approve this transfer of park land…thereby leaving it up to the people of Westwood.


Despite the voting by the City Council, the proposed development of the Westwood Park, adjacent old church lot, and former Westwood View  Elementary School may not yet be a done deal.

As the petition has been submitted, we eagerly await the announcement of a voting date so ALL REGISTERED WESTWOOD VOTERS CAN HAVE THEIR VOICES HEARD!

Fist raised in protest


If you would like to sign up for our newsletter, volunteer your talents, or run for city council, we'd love to have you.

Join us


If you can, please help fund our legal battles to obtain Westwood residents' rightful vote on this issue.

Mail checks to:

Friends of Westwood Parkland
2407 W 49th Ter
Westwood, KS 66205

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