More than 100 people attended the Kansas City Planning and Development Department’s second public meeting to discuss the city’s Shoal Creek Valley Area Plan.
Though residents attended the July 19 meeting for a variety of reasons, they all hoped to express their thoughts, wishes, and concerns about the future development of their community.
During the past several years, the Kansas City has formed plans for 18 unique zones in the metro area. All areas under consideration are specific geographical places within the city limits of Kansas City. However, none of them is incorporated as a city or town. Shoal Creek Valley is bisected by Interstate 435, and is west of Liberty.
Though all of these plans are based on a foundation of general principles and guidelines, goals for individual plans are derived from the input and recommendations of citizens, business owners and other stakeholders in each particular area.
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Listening and responding to suggestions and concerns of area residents was the primary purpose of Wednesday’s meeting, hosted at the Woodneath Library Center by council members and representatives of Kansas City’s Planning and Development Department.
According to Kansas City urban planner Chase Johnson, Shoal Creek Valley is experiencing exponential growth.
“In 1995, there were 1,000 residents here. Today, there are 30,000. With this plan, we consider what types of improvements an area needs with this level of growth, and what the priorities are.”
Heather Hall, councilwoman for District 1, has discussed the area plan with many of the Shoal Creek residents she represents.
Overall, she believes they have three top priorities for their community. These include more single-family home developments, a community or athletic center, and the creation of office space to bring more professional job opportunities to the area.
“I think the most important of these is the office space,” Hall said. “People will stay if they have jobs here.”
John DeBauche, lead planner with Kansas City’s Planning and Development Department, kicked off the meeting with a presentation of key components of the city’s plan.
Breakout sessions then were held focusing on its four core components: land use and development, transportation, housing and neighborhoods, and economic development. Attendees chose the sessions to which they most wanted to attend.
“We hoped a lot of citizens would take the time to attend the meeting and share their expertise,” DeBauche said. “Those who live here are the experts. They truly know the area and its needs.”
Interested in the installation of more accessible bike and walking trails as part of the development, Lisa Waterbury shared her thoughts with DeBauche during the transportation breakout group. She pointed out that many of the trails and sidewalks are too narrow to use safely.
Within the next several months, the city’s plan, which is built on the foundation of previous planning efforts in the Shoal Creek area, will be presented to the city council for adoption.
Once adopted, implementation will begin. Planning and development will partner with city council members, a Citizen Plan Implementation Committee, the Public Works Department, area businesses, elected officials, and others to bring the plan’s short- and long-term goals to fruition. Wednesday’s meeting was a step toward achieving these goals.
“I am thrilled that this many people came out this evening,” Hall said. “They are truly engaged and care about the future of their area.”