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Citizen Voices: It’s Time to Modernize the First Annexed Neighborhoods of Kansas City

To state that far too many of the first annexed neighborhoods in Kansas City North have been overlooked and fallen into neglect is to state a well-worn truism in Northland political discourse.

Yes, many of the neighborhoods were developed prior to annexation in 1950 and ‘59 – at a time when development standards weren’t in place – but despite what they may have said or promised, many politicians over the last 50 years wrote-off these neighborhoods as the Northland built outward in favor of newer developments.

The Shoal Creek area along Route 152 has received significant infrastructure investments and has flourished tremendously. Kansas City has also invested $40 million to expand sewers to Twin Creeks in a hope to attract 70,000 new residents. All the while, the neighborhood schools in the first annexed area lack connecting roadways and pedestrian infrastructure.

Students at Maplewood Elementary School are bused literally one block to school because it has been deemed unsafe for walking. Topping Elementary School students living in the Holiday Hills neighborhood are less than half a mile from the school, yet because there isn’t a connecting roadway from the neighborhood to the school, the school district has to bus the students over a mile to school.

I should note that Maplewood Elementary received $250,000 from the Searcy Creek TIF and additional $280,000 from PIAC to construct sidewalks along the school’s property. This is a good start, but it’s not enough as students still are forced to walk in the roadway or ditch to get to the new sidewalks.

As Kansas City prepares its list of projects to be included in the potential $1 billion General Obligation Bond (GO) we need to make sure our voice is heard. I’m a neighborhood guy, so when I heard that the project list was being complied I reached out to the councilmembers that represent the North Kansas City School District and provided a “wish list” of projects – about $65 million – that would dramatically modernize our older neighborhoods, while making sure our kiddos have safe routes to school (SRTS).

The list of improvements includes ADA ramps, complete streets, improved crosswalks, curbs, sidewalks, storm sewers, roadway reconstruction and the construction of Searcy Creek Parkway.

School Project Price CD PIAC 2016
Chouteau N Jackson Sidewalks (600 ft)                60,000.00 1 340137
NE Milan Ave (Jackson to Cypress Ave) (2000 ft)              750,000.00 1 340263
NE 38th St Improvements (Parvin to Brighton)              775,000.00 1 340265
HAWK Pedestrian Signal at Parvin & N Jackson                75,000.00 1 340238
Davidson N Highland Ave Sidewalks (2400 ft)              240,000.00 1 340249
N Flora Ave Sidewalks (5280 ft)              530,000.00 1 340250
Gashland NE Flagor Rd Sidewalks (22000 ft)              220,000.00 1 340246
N Kennwood Ave Sidewalks (1200 ft)              120,000.00 1 340247
Gracemor N Sycamore Ave Sidewalks (1100 ft)              110,000.00 1 340254
NE 51st St Sidewalks (600 ft)                60,000.00 1 340255
Lakewood N Norton Ave Sidewalks (3000 ft)              300,000.00 1 340239
Maplewood NE 52nd Street Reconstruction           8,000,000.00 1 340242
Searcy Creek Prkwy (48th St to 52nd St)           5,000,000.00 1 340260
Searcy Creek Trail 48th St to 52nd St              400,000.00 1 340243
Ravenwood School speed zone flashing beacons along Brighton                12,000.00 1 340236
N Brighton Complete Street (58th Terr to PV Road)           8,000,000.00 1 340270
Topping N Topping Improvements           2,500,000.00 1 340241
Searcy Creek Prkwy (Parvin to 48th St)           5,000,000.00 1 340259
Searcy Creek Trail Parvin Road to 48th St              800,000.00 1 340141
Winnwood NE 45th Terr Sidewalks (2600 ft)              260,000.00 1 340251
N Cypress Ave Sidewalks (1100 ft)              110,000.00 1 340252
N Elmwood Ave Sidewalks (3600 ft)              360,000.00 1 340253
Eastgate School speed zone flashing beacons along Parvin                12,000.00 1 340244
Parvin Road Complete Street and Reconstruction           8,000,000.00 1 340269
Northgate NE 46th St Sidewalks (960 ft)                10,000.00 1 340248
HAWK Pedestrian Signal at Vivon and 48th St                75,000.00 1 340240
Oak Park NE 79th Terrace (N Oak Trfwy to N Troost Ave)           1,040,000.00 1 310455
Winnetonka School speed zone flashing beacons along 48th St                12,000.00 1 340245
Fox Hill School speed zone flashingbeacons along 106th St                12,000.00 2 340256
Nashua N Oak Improvemetns (111th St to Cookingham)           2,500,000.00 2 340257
New Mark School speed zone flashingbeacons along 106th St                12,000.00 2 340258
West Englewood HAWK Pedestrian Signal at Englewood Rd & N Liberty Ave                75,000.00 2 340264
Briarcliff Briarcliff Rd Sidewalks (2600 ft)              260,000.00 4 340261
N Main St Sidewalks (2700 ft)              270,000.00 4 340262
Crestview North Holmes Improvements           8,000,000.00 4 340267
NE 44th St Improvements (Oak to Davidson)           8,000,000.00 4 340268
NE 42nd St (Briarcliff Pkwy to Parvin)           2,500,000.00 4 340266

If you live, work, play or know someone that attends school in one of the older neighborhoods, contact your council representatives and let them know that our older neighborhoods deserve the same amount of infrastructure investments as Shoal Creek and Twin Creeks and that every child deserves SRTS.

In short, if the mayor, council and denizens of City Hall want the voters to approve the proposed GO bond they need to make a commitment to make significate infrastructure investments around our neighborhood schools and within the neighborhoods of the first annexed area. They also need to see the first annexed areas as an opportunity, not a liability: opportunity to rebuild and to reinvigorate, while making our city a more walkable and pedestrian friendly city. That is, if the mayor and council have the political courage, to do so.

To reach Jason H. Withington email: [email protected]; twitter: @JHWKCMO

About Jason Withington