A QUESTION PERTAINS TO TIFFANY SPRINGS PARKWAY
Soon the voters of Platte County who reside within the city limits of Kansas City will have an opportunity to vote on several public issues directly, including two bond measures that supporters say would play a big role in helping fund upgrades at community centers, renovations at the Kansas City Convention Center, and stimulate affordable housing.
All voters in Kansas City will decide these issues at a Tuesday, Nov. 8 election.
According to the Platte County Board of Elections, there are more than 37,000 registered voters who reside in Kansas City within Platte County.
City officials crafted and approved placing the two bond questions on the ballot well ahead of the general election. According to city officials, neither of these new bond measures would raise taxes on residents because the issuance of these bonds would occur with the “roll-off of existing bond debt.”
“I am proud voters will see on a November ballot a bond measure I proposed with strong council support, which would address deferred maintenance at our 10 community centers, would open pools equitably throughout our city, and would ensure children and families in all neighborhoods have playgrounds and parks that work for them,” said Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas.
“The bond would importantly also dedicate $50 million to the City’s Housing Trust Fund — the single largest investment in affordable housing ever made by Kansas City to ensure folks of all income levels can call Kansas City home. We will keep engaging with folks in all areas of Kansas City to ensure public facilities are open, safe, and accessible for all of our children and families — in all Kansas City neighborhoods.”
Kathy Nelson, Visit KC President and CEO, supports the city council’s decision to place the bond measures on the November ballot.
“Visit KC sees the progression of this important issue from city council approval to the November ballot as a significant milestone and one that is essential to KC’s gradual economic recovery. As a whole, the meetings and conventions segment will be one of the last sectors of travel to recover post-pandemic,” said Nelson.
Proponents say the ballot question of whether Kansas City should secure $125 million through the issuance of general obligation bonds to upgrade parks, community centers, public swimming pools, even historic fountains and the convention center is an important one because it will improve communities.
“If passed, the measure would approve nearly $80 million in bonds over a five-year period which would allow the city to provide necessary upgrades to Kansas City’s 10 community centers; to reopen now-shuttered public pools equitably; to fix historic fountains throughout the City of Fountains; among other necessary upgrades to several public parks — ensuring all Kansas City children and families have equitable access to our community’s public spaces,” reads a release from the City of Kansas City.
While the bulk of the funds would be allocated to community public spaces, this bond measure would also allow the city to reinvest $45 million into the Kansas City Convention Complex, which encompasses 800,000 sq. ft.
“The Kansas City Convention Center currently has a multitude of deferred maintenance projects that require investment to renovate, upgrade, and sustain this facility into the future. Due to the current physical condition of the convention center and this deferred maintenance, Kansas City is at risk of losing meeting and convention business to our peer cities, further eroding the economic impact of this community-owned asset. Planned investment in the Kansas City Convention Center will position our city competitively with our peer destinations for years to come, ensuring optimal and sustainable return on investment of this public facility,” said Nathan Hermiston, senior vice president of convention sales and services.
Supporters of the measure also say the 1,000-space Barney Allis parking garage and plaza are in “dire need” of reconstruction.
The ability to attract visitors and host large-scale events is important because it contributes to the vitality of Kansas City. The tourism industry employs over 110,000 employees and is reliant on the vitality of the Convention Center Complex.
“Tourism is Missouri’s largest industry,” said Hermiston. “Each year, the Kansas City community welcomes 25.2 million visitors that create $3.4 billion in visitor spending annually and impacts one in 10 jobs. We know the Kansas City Convention Center itself welcomes nearly 700,000 event attendees annually and 180+ events per year. The economic impact of these events combines to generate $325 million for Kansas City and the Greater Kansas City region. These meeting, convention, and event organizers and attendees occupy hotel rooms, fill restaurant seats, shop in our stores, utilize our local vendors, and ultimately create and sustain jobs for the betterment and economic health and vibrancy of Kansas City.”
Kansas City is in direct competition with other cities to attract a broad range of meetings and events. Right now, nearly three dozen renovation projects are underway at convention centers across the nation.
“In the same vein of the KC Streetcar expansion and the new single terminal at KCI, our continual investment in KC’s convention facilities is critical for maintaining our seat in an extremely competitive marketplace,” said Nelson.
“Since 2016, Kansas City has missed out on an estimated $62 million in economic impact directly tied to the current condition of the Kansas City Convention Center. Without additional investment, Kansas City is at risk of losing additional market share to peer destinations, which would further erode the economic impact of this community asset,” reads the release from the City of Kansas City.
The most obvious concern arising from these general obligation bonds is the city’s ability to maintain its projected revenue.
In the second bond question, voters will help determine whether the city should invest $50 million in affordable housing through the rehabilitation, renovation, and construction of houses and structures throughout Kansas City. The bond measure would also invest in transitional and supportive housing.
The median sales price of houses in the Kansas City area was $344,050 in 2021, statistically 16.45 percent higher than the previous year, according to figures from the U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Rising home prices are outpacing wage growth and directly impacting neighborhood affordability.
“The bond funding would be used to leverage existing funding in the Housing Trust Fund, federal funding, and the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit to create sustainable housing in neighborhoods most in need — and would be the largest single investment in affordable housing ever made by the City of Kansas City. In its first award cycle this year, the Housing Trust Fund funded nearly 500 new units of affordable housing —more than 120 of which units will be transitional housing for those experiencing homelessness, and 20 percent of all units will create housing opportunities for those at 30 percent of area median income (AMI) or below,” said Melissa Kozakiewicz, a spokesperson for the City of Kansas City.
City officials emphasize the importance of stimulating economic development in designated areas such as run-down neighborhoods that may have been overlooked by investors.
“Eliminating urban poverty continues to be a top priority for the City of Kansas City. The passage of Question 2 will cause a significant increase in construction and related jobs in blighted areas of Kansas City and provide much needed affordable housing for those at or below the area median income,” said Kozakiewicz.
PROPOSED TIFFANY SPRINGS PARKWAY
The voting public in Kansas City will also assume the responsibility of deciding whether to support removing two tracts of land from the parks system to realign a section of land for the proposed Tiffany Springs Parkway.
“Currently there is a right-of- way dedicated for Tiffany Springs Parkway along a specific alignment between NW Prairie View Road and N. Amity Road. This ballot question will allow the alignment (of the existing right-of-way) to be modified,” said Kozakiewicz.
The two tracts of land total 11.858 acres, which is equivalent to 516,534 square feet. This land is zoned for commercial buildings and any proposed development would be guided by the city’s development process.
The proposed Tiffany Springs Parkway with a dual pedestrian path would connect with the dead end of the existing Tiffany Springs Parkway between Sonesta Select Hotel and Cracker Barrel, and stretch southwest, where it would eventually connect with Mark L. McHenry Park.
When asked if the proposed parkway would cut directly through Mark McHenry Park, Kozakiewicz said, “The city’s major street plan delineates Tiffany Springs Parkway connection to Mark L. McHenry Park along N. Hampton and N. Childress Road.” She added that an environmental study would need to be completed ahead of any road construction.
The project is currently not funded and while a timeline for the construction has not been drafted, city officials anticipate that the road construction would take two construction seasons from start to finish.