The April 4th City Council Meeting began with public comments during which the Council was criticized for not ensuring that the public planning session was available online and via the TV sources.
Gordie Faust representing the citizens of the Canterbury sub-division presented a series of cohesive, fact based concerns and issues residents have with the proposed Blackwell/Hwy 50 interchange. Of primary concern are the incidents of speeding and the safety of residents, primarily children crossing Blackwell to attend Highland Park Elementary or to make use of the swimming pool, park or fishing hole. These concerns were punctuated by the death of Faust’s nine year old son Justin while he was crossing Blackwell in 2004.
Other concerned residents expressed similar concerns. As discussed later in the meeting, this interchange has been in the planning process since 1968. Unfortunately this was once again an issue that the public was just too late addressing to have any impact on the outcome.
Girl Scout Troop #3086 from Longview Elementary and Clear Creek Elementary presented their project to create A-O.K. May Day to encourage and celebrate acts of kindness to others. Mayor Rhodes presented the scouts with a Proclamation recognizing their bronze award age of change journey and proclaiming May 1st as A-O.K. Day in Lee’s Summit.
Several ordinances were approved with basically no discussion.
The ordinance approving an amendment to the East U.S. 50 Highway Corridor Improvement Tax Incremental Financing Plan (TIF) related to the Price Chopper development generated some discussion after Councilmember Johnson proposed 100% of the TIF portion currently slotted to repay the proposed redevelopment rather than the current 50% pay back.
After City Staff responded to Council questions ensuring that their would be no loss of sales tax revenue to the city and no impact on the property tax revenues to the R-7 School District the ordinance passed 7 to 1. The ordinance approving the Preliminary Development Plan also passed with a 7 to 1 vote.
Bills related to the M-150Corridor Development Overlay and the Highway 50 Todd George Community Improvement District (CID) passed with little discussion. And the Substitute Bill authorizing the Execution of a Development Agreement between WalMart and the City passed unanimously.
Additional bills related to the Highway 50 and Todd George CID, the Ordinance approving the municipal agreement and the cost sharing agreement between the City and MODOT for Blackwell Road and US 50 Highway interchange all passed with virtually no discussion.
Councilmembers Gray and Binney expressed appreciation for the passing of the Cultural Arts initiative and the Infrastructure and Public Safety measures.
In a related matter, City Manager Arbo talked about the citizens who have expressed frustration that two items they consider to be critical were not a part of the Infrastructure/Public Safety issues presented for approval by the voters.
He explained that the city is aware that Fire Station #3 will need to be replaced in the future and committed the staff to work on a plan to do so. He stated that the city is working on an assessment process of the Fire Department that is not focused on where fire stations are located, but instead focuses on resources, response times, etc.
From this assessment recommendations and planning will progress. He reminded everyone that in the past 10 years Fire Stations 7, 2 and the Headquarters have been upgraded.
Life packs with paramedics use for pulmonary monitoring was another point of contention. Arbo stated that the model currently in place is excellent while acknowledging the desire to introduce new and better technology. The proposed budget includes the funding option to begin purchasing life packs in series of five for a total over three years of seventeen new units. The plan also sets aside dollars to replace these units when their life expectancy is projected to end.
Arbo again acknowledged that there is a lot of frustration being expressed and assured the council and the public that these concerns will be considered and will be managed. He expressed confidence that LSFD will continue to provide an outstanding level of support to the community.
Chief Martin joined him to apologize to the Council for having to deal with these frustrations.
Mayor Rhodes thanked the Council for this evening’s session saying "we did some heavy lifting and you stayed focused, congratulations."