Last night’s public hearing on blasting at the old, union mine was just another Lee’s Summit example of crony capitalism. The mine owner, Phillip Short, attorney Christine Bushyhead, and promoter Bill Brown, have gone through some of their friends on City Council, the Planning Commission and the TIF Commission as well as the City Manager to get project approvals as the vehicle to help Star Excavation. I believe this project is an exploitation of federal, state and county requirements for public construction contracting that will serve to enrich the mine owner and friends through public sales taxes.

Until 2024, the western gateway to Lee’s Summit will have a commercial strip pit mining operation that will include: blasting, rock crushing, drilling, heavy moving equipment and truck rock haulers—all of which are the full complement of an active strip pit/quarry mine. The I-470 and View High Community Improvement District (CID) along with the Southwest Transportation Development District (TDD) will together collect from 16 to 38 million per year in tax revenues, some of which will be coming from sales tax increases at the Summit Woods Shopping area. Once received by these political subdivisions, these tax revenues will become privately controlled by both CID & TDD boards meaning no public reporting will be required. The CID and TDD both were created for the development of the Paragon Star Sports Complex and Village, a destination soccer complex and retail/entertainment spot.

Paragon Star has been requesting public bids on their development that contain the same specifications which were presented last night by Bushyhead that the mine owner, Star Excavation LLC, is planning to complete for its mine reclamation project. Paragon’s #2 Bid package includes a requirement that the fill will cost $1,443,750. Furthermore, the package states, “Compensation should be made by percentage of monthly billed contract to PBAJ LLC. Phillip Short is the owner of PBAJ LLC. It seemed like a real stretch to call it a mine reclamation when the limestone is being removed for commercial sale and looks more to me like an underground mine has changed to a strip pit/quarry. This is probably the only mine ever that will be provided infrastructure improvements funded to repair undermining and facilitate rock haulers on the roadways.

Thanks to the “fire sale” of 86 acres of marsh land by the City to Phillip Short, otherwise Paragon Star Sports Complex wouldn’t have access to our tax money and I doubt we would have any blasting.

Vicki Tarpley
Lee’s Summit