Parkville officials are changing the Parkville Downtown Master Plan into a vision plan to send the message that the city isn’t locked into a single idea of what the area should be.
Designed to serve as a long-range vision for downtown Parkville, the document addresses land use, transportation, infrastructure, parks and open spaces, economic development and community character.
The Parkville Board of Aldermen agreed earlier this year to change the the document from a “plan” to a “vision” because community members were concerned that the plan was set in stone, said Mayor Jim Brooks and other city officials.
“Parkville will evaluate any development proposal on its merits,” explained Alderman Marc Sportsman. “We are not locked into any single drawing or concept.”
City Administrator Lauren Palmer said the plan evolved into a vision after community members voiced concerns that the plan “would commit the city to subsequent action or financing and would discourage development proposals that are not identical to plan recommendations or concepts.”
“In fact, the document is a policy guide to be used to evaluate options,” she said. It will be re-evaluated periodically as conditions change and does not obligate the city to any specific action. “Renaming the document as a vision helps clarify this intent,” she said. The document is being edited to include additional language about its purpose as a long-range vision for downtown, not a binding mandate, she said.
The work was financed by a grant from the Mid-America Regional Council and developed jointly with Park University, the Parkville Economic Development Council, the Parkville Chamber of Commerce, the Main Street Parkville Association, Platte County Parks and Recreation, the Parkville Old Town Market Community Improvement District, and the Platte County Health Department.
A series of workshops, public meetings and online forums last year contributed to the document. The city hired the consulting team of Ochnsner, Hare & Hare to coordinate the planning process and compile the final vision. The work began last summer, and although the planning process and initial draft were completed in December, minor revisions and edits are still underway, Palmer said. Officials expect the city’s Planning & Zoning Commission to adopt the vision in the coming weeks.
The overall goal is to shape the future of downtown Parkville, a place that Stone Canyon Pizza operator Kevin Heaton said is perfect because of its imperfection. “I like what they’ve done (in the vision document) and I hope that it happens,” he said.
Heaton said the area’s historic homes and buildings are what give the downtown area its charm. Many homes and commercial buildings retain the character of their origins in the 19th and early 20th century. According to the vision document, maintenance of downtown Parkville’s existing buildings varies greatly and “buildings downtown would benefit from rehabilitation of exterior walls, storefronts and signage.”
Tom Hutsler, chairman of the Main Street Parkville Association, said, “Very positive things came out of the study for possible future development. The meetings were well-attended and everyone was given the opportunity to provide input.”
Hutsler said favorable comments were made about a proposal to redevelop six blocks of East Street/Missouri 9 from First to Sixth streets. A commercial or mixed-used development is proposed for the area. Also proposed is the redevelopment of residential properties on West Street to single-family homes designed to complement the area’s historic character.
English Landing Park is being enlarged by 140 acres and will continue to be an attraction for the Downtown Parkville, said Mayor Brooks.
“It’s a regional draw and is a great boost for businesses downtown,” Brooks said. “Also, we need to implement a transportation plan for improving 9 Highway from the bridge by the post office to 45 Highway. We need storm sewers, curbs, gutters and sidewalks for safe walking spaces.”
Keeping the area economically viable is a primary goal, Palmer said. Taxable retail sales declined in 2009 due to the recession and then rebounded, but they declined again slightly in 2012, she said. “Improvement was seen in 2013, which is encouraging,” she said.
An economic and market analysis completed as part of the vision document concluded that Downtown Parkville has a retail pull factor above the state average, Palmer said. “The plan states Downtown Parkville has the ability attract customers from outside the city and there are opportunities to support additional retail sales,” she said.