by Debbie Coleman-Topi
The controversy surrounding a 300-acre development at Interstate 435 and Missouri 45 pre-empted a meeting of the Main Street Parkville Association(MSPA) last week.
A videographer hired by a citizens' group that opposes the development was prevented from recording the MSPA meeting. The association's meetings are open to the public.
The dispute ensued when video journalist Matt Kline, hired by Citizens for A Better Parkville to record the meeting of the non-profit, was denied the right to record.
In a statement on the Better Parkville website, Kline said, “I can understand them questioning me”…but “It didn't seem that they were willing to be transparent.”
Nick Casale, a member of the American Legion, the group that owns the downtown building where association meetings are held, said he and others told the videographer he could be present at the meeting, but was not allowed to film. Casale also is a member of the Parkville Main Street Association.
When asked why he and others told him the meeting could not be recorded, he said the request was a result of what he considered a consensus of those in the room.
“They (members) decided they were comfortable with him remaining at the meeting but were not comfortable with him recording,” he said.
Mike Carney, president of Main Street, said the group decided, as a result of the controversy, not to hold an official business meeting that day. Instead, the meeting was re-scheduled for this week.
“We wanted to make certain we were doing the right thing,” he said during a telephone interview. “We just want things to be great in downtown Parkville…We do not have a dog in the hunt (development controversy) outside of that goal.” He added, “We invite anybody to come at all times,” he said of association meetings. “We're always open.”
Parkville City Administrator Joe Parente said the city and the association work in tandem on projects.
“The city tries to support the organization by making contributions to the parks and roads, just like we do the Chamber of Commerce,” he said.
He added that the city pays membership dues, like those paid by business owner members.
The association is comprised of downtown business owners and their mission is to “preserve, maintain, and promote the hometown charm of Historic Downtown Parkville,” the website states.
The city of Parkvile is listed as a “Presenting Sponsor” on the website.
In a written statement, Jason Maki of Citizens for A Better Parkville said, “We are committed to open government and the video documentation of the meetings are in the public interest.”
Maki’s statement continued, “We hope that the MSPA will begin to document their meetings and make them publicly accessible in the future.”