Get the work started.
That was City Manager Troy Schulte’s ambition once Kansas City voters approved $800 million in bond issues to repair the city’s ailing infrastructure.
But some City Council members say Schulte’s recently released list of “shovel-ready” projects for Year One is rushing past a review process established by a council resolution before the April 4 election.
“We need to step back,” City Councilwoman Alissia Canady said Thursday in a work session before the regular council session. “We have not had the opportunity to have the conversation.”
Council members Canady, Katheryn Shields and Quinton Lucas all raised concerns in the council’s first opportunity to debate the list of $40 million in projects the city released May 1.
The council split over the city’s process, with others saying the city should launch ready projects so voters can see work happening this fall — and that the more deliberate process will carry through in the years ahead.
“I’m in favor of getting these shovel-ready projects done,” City Councilman Scott Taylor said. “I would start tomorrow.”
The proposed projects for the first year included $7 million to start construction of a new animal shelter; $3.4 million to reconstruct Wornall Road from 85th to 89th streets; and $3.6 million to reconstruct streets, sidewalks and stormwater improvements in Beacon Hill, from 25th to 27th streets near Troost Avenue.
The list includes funds to complete design of Maple Woods Parkway in the Northland in preparation for getting matching federal funds; $4 million for improvements to the Kansas City Museum; $1.1 million to improve access at Starlight Theatre for people who are disabled; $1.5 million for sidewalk curb ramps; and $1.5 million to restore the Spirit of Freedom and Delbert Haff fountains.
The council members did not doubt the need for the first projects — a full list is at www.kcmo.gov/infrastructure.
But there were concerns about the process. In its resolution before the election, the council dictated that the city would have the Public Improvements Advisory Committee review recommendations.
The resolution also calls for a “community benefit agreement plan” to support local workforce development and other considerations in selecting firms to complete the work.
“You’re putting us in a difficult position,” Lucas said, “asking us to say, ‘These projects look nice. Let’s ignore the resolution and get these things moving.’ ”
The proposed ordinance will be heard in a joint committee next week, and council members set up the other issues they intend to debate, including the criteria the city is using to prioritize projects.
“There is a price for acceleration for year one,” Mayor Pro-Tem Scott Wagner said. “If you feel that (some of the detailed processes) are required, we may run some risk that we not get things out this year.”
But, knowing the debate to come next week, he added, “We’ll see.”