Progress in KC’s urban core requires leadership from school district and chamber officials

08/22/2014 4:01 PM

08/22/2014 4:14 PM

A long-term plan to help rejuvenate inner-city neighborhoods is making progress. But keeping the momentum going will require cooperation among Kansas City officials, school leaders and residents — plus public and private funds.

The Urban Neighborhood Initiative is in that precarious stage of being more than a nice-sounding idea yet still far from a positive reality.

Kansas City Public Schools is a big asset for the project. Officials say they will explore an innovative idea to support a district-sponsored charter K-8 school within the boundaries of the 200-block area between Troost Avenue and U.S. 71, from 22nd to 52nd streets.

This week, Superintendent Stephen Green said he sees merits of a school that would target children “where the struggle is the greatest” to deliver a high quality education.

It’s also positive to see that the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce remains committed to financially supporting one of its “Big 5” ideas, spawned several years ago. The rejuvenation of the city’s core — especially to provide better housing, education and public services along with increased safety on the streets — must remain a high priority for business leaders.

Kansas City is hoping to learn from the successes and setbacks that the Atlanta-based Purpose Built Communities has had in pushing urban renewal plans in several other cities.

An official with that group offered some sobering advice: It could take a decade or more to determine the success rate of proposals to improve living conditions for 10,000 residents within the initiative’s footprint.

Then again, the problems that afflict the core accumulated over decades. Boosting its future isn’t for the faint-hearted or those looking for quick fixes.

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