Last month the Northeast News detailed the Colonnade restoration project at Concourse Park. However, that is far from the only project happening in the 6.36 acre park, which includes a variety of recreation options.
In 2017, the Kansas City Museum partnered with the Scarritt Renaissance Neighborhood Association and Greater Kansas City Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) to address safety issues in the park, including vehicular and pedestrian traffic near the playground.
A $60,000 creative placemaking grant from LISC via the Kresge Foundation was awarded for a team of artists to design a creative solution for the public safety problem with input from the community. Kansas City-based artists Georgianna Buchanan, Rachel Eilts and Michael Toombs worked with neighborhood residents, park users, planning staff from the parks and recreation department, LISC, Northeast Arts Alliance, The Mattie Rhodes Center and the Kansas City Museum.
In the fall of 2019, the Parks and Recreation Department funded and installed two speed tables on Gladstone Boulevard near the slide as part of the creative safety-minded solution. The intention was for the artists to paint a street mural on the speed tables.
However, in the spring of 2020, the parks department was informed that Public Works would not allow the crosswalks to be painted on Gladstone Boulevard.
In July 2020 Public Works issued a press release about receiving a grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies for $25,000 for paintings on crosswalks in Midtown intersections. A separate ordinance passed on Aug. 6 for a Black Lives Matter street mural project.
“This Asphalt Art Project will build on our ongoing efforts to create more opportunities for Kansas Citians to get outdoors and will help the City revitalize public spaces for all to enjoy,” Mayor Quinton Lucas said. “I am proud that Kansas City is leveraging community partnerships for neighborhood projects, and I look forward to seeing local artists’ work on the streets of Westport.”
Shortly after, parks employees met with the employees of the Public Works Department to discuss the Creative Concourse Project to determine how to move forward. While the project is still finalizing details, including obtaining permits, it has allowed direct conversation about the Concourse crosswalks to restart.
“As the project was conceived, we were going to start with one creative crosswalk on one of those speed tables to start,” Kansas City Museum Executive Director Anna Marie Tutera said. “Currently we are in conversation with the Public Works Department to fully understand the federal guidelines and requirements for what they call creative crosswalks or asphalt art.”
Tutera said they have some color restrictions based on the location being residential. The existing design, which already considered input from residents, may have to be redesigned with earth tone colors.
With approximately $22,000 remaining from the $60,000 LISC grant, additional funding will come through a Trust for Public Land Grant.
The Trust for Public Land Grant is part of the national movement 10-Minute Walk (10MW) that calls mayors to make the “100% Promise,” to ensure that all residents have safe, equitable access to a quality park or green space by 2050.
In February 2020 the Kansas City Museum Foundation was granted $45,000 out of the total $375,000, which was distributed between seven other nonprofits in cities across the nation working to expand access to parks and green space.
“Hundreds of cities are embracing the power of parks to transform quality of life and spark connections that help people, economies, and entire communities thrive,” said Benita Hussain, director of 10MW. “We recognize the critical role that community organizations play in making parks and green space more accessible for their residents, and we are thrilled to support these eight organizations in their efforts to make parks possible.”
The Kansas City Museum Foundation, along with the museum, the Parks Department, UMKC’s Center for Neighborhoods, and United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Creative City – Kansas City, is turning its attention to three Historic Northeast parks: Concourse Park, Budd Park and Lykins Park.
While no concrete plans for the money have been finalized, the funds will help to understand issues of access and equity to each of the parks, using arts and culture strategies for community development and resident engagement.
The continued creative placemaking work accomplished with this grant will be in agreement with the city’s Comprehensive Plan and the Parks Department’s Strategic Plan.