Residents speak out on vision for Roeland Park

05/01/2014 2:09 PM

05/01/2014 2:10 PM

Roeland Park residents gathered Wednesday night to share their vision for the city’s future.

Sponsored by the Neighbor to Neighbor Committee, the open house at the Roeland Park Community Center was a place for residents to talk about the city’s strengths, weaknesses and potential.

Among those attending were Tom and Judy Hyde, 42-year residents of Roeland Park. They are concerned about the potential loss of the city’s Wal-Mart, which is expected to close when a Wal-Mart opens in The Gateway Development in Mission. Losing the store would mean a significant loss of sales tax revenue.

Additionally, the Hydes are helping to raise money for development of a walking path in R Park at the former Roeland Park Elementary School, 5535 Juniper.

“We fought hard to keep the land as green space, but now that it’s been declared a park the city doesn’t have sufficient funds to implement a master plan,” Judy Hyde said. A group is holding a fund-raising effort on July 2 as part of the city’s 63rd birthday celebration with a goal of raising $6,300.

“Roeland Park needs to attract young families, so the city needs to provide amenities and activities young families are interested in,” Judy Hyde said.

JP Hildebrand, a Roeland Park resident and vice-chairman of the Neighbor to Neighbor Committee, said attracting young families requires more businesses and amenities, including restaurants and boutique shopping.

Comments at open house will be combined with input from city leaders, businesses, churches, schools and civic organizations, and used to develop a strategic plan. The committee’s goal is to present a recommendation to the City Council by August or September.

Tom Madigan, who has lived in Roeland Park nearly 30 years, is the Neighbor to Neighbor Committee chairman. Other committee members were recommended by each member of the City Council and Mayor Joel Marquardt. City clerk Debbie Mootz is the committee liaison.

Marquardt said the city has started and stopped in the past when working on a strategic plan. “As long as we get participation I’m hopeful this time the outcome will be good,” he said.

Madigan said the planning process has been designed “so that we can keep an open mind until all of the data is compiled and we see what the stakeholders have to say.”

The council agreed to work toward development of a strategic plan in November 2013.

The Neighbor to Neighbor Committee hired the Hugo Wall School of Urban and Public Affairs at Wichita State University to facilitate a series of meetings to gather input for the plan.

Misty Bruckner from Wichita State said about 15 different group meetings have been held so far. The first citizen’s meeting was held on Wednesday night. Citizens were asked to describe Roeland Park today and where it should be in five to 10 years.

They were also asked to address the city’s biggest challenges, types of commercial development and amenities they favor, and how to create a sense of community.

Bruckner said the information will be narrowed to specific topics and then returned to the community for additional input.

“Our goal is to not only present a strategic plan but also have experts advise us on steps to attain the goals outlined in the plan,” Madigan said. “That’s how goals are achieved.”

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