By Mallory Ragon
More sidewalks will be coming to Second Street to fill in gaps between Missouri Highway 291 and Jefferson Street, as part of the Second Street corridor improvements project. Sidewalks are otherwise continuous on the west side of 291 to Blue Parkway, and on the east side of the highway on Langsford Road. The city hopes to increase connectivity and improve safety, particularly in conjunction with the current improvements being made at several of 291’s intersections for ease of pedestrian access.
In order to construct the sidewalks along some of that property, the city council passed an ordinance to acquire permanent right-of-way adjacent to the Summit East Plaza Apartments, located near the intersection of Second Street and Independence Avenue. The complex was built in 1972 and was designed not to accommodate such sidewalks, and the owner was vocal at the August 7 session that there simply was not enough room-or enough need-to justify making the improvement. The complex’s management even sent letters to their residents notifying them of anticipated rent increases if the sidewalk is constructed, citing probable insurance increases as a result of personal injury claims.
Joe Willerth, the attorney representing Summit East Plaza Apartment, spoke during the public comments portion of the meeting since there was no public hearing for this ordinance. He noted that, due to the slope of the property and the proximity to residents, the property was designed specifically not to have a public sidewalk.
“[This is a] question of necessity or public need for this sidewalk,” Willerth said.
Dena Mezger, interim director of public works, noted that she has personally observed the need for the sidewalk, which will about the curb along Second.
“The fact that there’s a dirt path there shows that there are people using it,” she said. “Otherwise it would just be grass.”
She explained that sidewalks along that section of road will improve access to the Gamber Center, as well as allowing residents on the west side of 291 access to Hy-Vee, Big Lots, Starbucks and other businesses across the highway.
Councilmember Rob Binney, who shared the apartment complex’s concerns regarding the ground slope where the sidewalk will be constructed and the proximity of the sidewalk to residents’ windows, voted against the ordinance. The other six councilmembers voted to approve it; Councilmember Dave Mosby was absent.