Out with the old, in with the future.
If Wyandotte County Unified Government Mayor Mark Holland had a theme to his annual “State of the Government” speech this week, it was “forward ho.”
The 100-year-old downtown YMCA needs to come down, and it should be replaced with a full-service community center.
No one even wants to look at the wreck that is the Indian Springs Mall. It needs to go and be replaced not with another hulk of a shopping center but with a development that will serve the community in multiple positive ways.
Kansas City, Kan., needs affordable housing, but not the project-type housing of the past.
And this interesting nugget: Holland is agreeable to talks about moving the American Royal to western Wyandotte County near the Kansas Speedway and other attractions, but it can’t be the same old American Royal that is slowly becoming a relic in Kansas City’s West Bottoms.
“I want to build an American Royal that could be a hub for bioscience and animal health for the next 20 years,” Holland said.
If a new American Royal project is to be built — which is questionable now that Kansas lawmakers are in STAR bond revolt — giving it a food science and animal health mission is an inspired idea.
At his speech, sponsored as always by the Downtown Kansas City, Kan., Rotary Club, Holland gave the appearance of a mayor who is in charge and in touch. He’s fresh off of a “listening tour” and says his priorities are property tax relief for residents, park improvements, street resurfacing and blight removal.
All of those goals should become more doable once the Unified Government begins receiving sales taxes from the Village West development that have been deferred for years as part of a STAR bonds development deal. The county expects to receive an additional $12 million in sales taxes beginning next year.
Holland also praised Wyandotte County’s diversity, which he called an asset. The county has no ethnic majority — its residents are 42 percent white, 28 percent Hispanic, 26 percent black and there is a growing Asian population.
“We are very proud of our diversity,” Holland said. “It is the strength of our community.”
He added: “I don’t have any time for any candidate who’s going to stand up and denigrate the very people that are here in our community.”
Wyandotte County has long been a haven for immigrants and refugees, so you can figure out which politicians Holland is talking about.
“If the Fourth Reich rises in our country and our business leaders and religious leaders do not step up, shame on us,” he said.
Strong words, but good for the mayor for voicing them.