Two Kansas City council members urged the city manager Tuesday to address Indian Creek flooding, including possibly replacing a flooded retail center with a park.
“It’s evident that difficult choices need to be made here,” Councilman Scott Taylor said at a press conference at City Hall. “Certain structures and parcels along Indian Creek that were destroyed, that are solidly in the flood plain, should not be rebuilt. It does not make sense for a new structure to be rebuilt on property we know will flood again.”
Taylor and Councilman Kevin McManus both live in south Kansas City and have observed recent devastation to Coach’s Bar & Grill and other businesses near 103rd Street and Wornall Road, from Indian Creek overrunning its banks after torrential downpours in early August.
On Tuesday, they called on City Manager Troy Schulte to develop a comprehensive strategy to decrease the negative impact of flooding along the Indian Creek and Blue River corridor. They will introduce a resolution Thursday seeking council support for that directive.
Part of that effort, they said, would be the voluntary acquisition of property in these flood-prone areas. The city could seek financial aid for property owners through a Flood Mitigation Assistance Grant.
But that assistance is for property owners, and it’s unclear what financial help is available for the businesses that were tenants at 103rd and Wornall. One of those was Coach’s Bar & Grill, a popular and well-loved establishment that had been at that location for 35 years.
On Tuesday, Coach’s co-owner Brian Darby said by telephone that he knew nothing about the press conference and he wished city officials had reached out to him.
He said he is looking at possible sites to relocate on 103rd Street but has received no guidance or assistance from the city. He did have flood insurance, but he said that because the program is so strapped, it won’t be enough. And now, with Hurricane Harvey inundating south Texas, Darby wasn’t sure how much federal assistance will be available for Kansas City.
Taylor said at least two of the businesses in the vicinity of Coach’s will relocate nearby and another has moved to 18th and Vine. He said the city’s BizCare office can help expedite those moves.
But Taylor said rebuilding in the same location, which has had flooding in the past, doesn’t make sense.
“The difference now is the increasing rapid pace and intensity of the flooding which occurred the last few weeks,” he said. “We have to take a new approach and look at it.”
He urged the city manager to work with the property owners, and consider turning the location into “parkland, which will be good for the city but also help with mitigation of water in the future.”
He said the city must work with other jurisdictions and Johnson County, “where the water is coming from,” on a regional flood control approach. He said costs of that effort, and a timetable for the improvements, are not yet known.