Northeast residents list top five goals for area

By LESLIE COLLINS
July 11, 2012

More than 60 area residents came together June 23 to share goals and insight for improving Historic Northeast.

“It was exciting to see people work in groups with such energy, such vision, such passion, such commitment, love and creativity for their neighborhoods,” said Kirk Perucca, president and founder of Kirk Perucca Associates, Inc., whose company helped gather community input to develop the Quality of Life Plan.

Both Perucca and the Greater Kansas City Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) hosted the final Quality of Life Planning Session June 23, which is part of the Paseo Gateway Choice Neighborhoods Initiative. Through the initiative, the Housing Authority of Kansas City (HAKC) plans to redevelop the outdated public housing at Chouteau Courts as mixed income housing throughout Kansas City and improve the quality of life in four Northeast neighborhoods.

Boundaries of the Paseo Gateway Transformation Plan include an approximately 1-square mile area bordered by East 9th Street to the south, Chestnut Trafficway to the east, I-35/I-29 to the west and the Union Pacific Railroad to the north. It also includes four neighborhoods: Pendleton Heights, Independence Plaza, Paseo West and Chouteau Courts.

Since October, Perucca and LISC have worked diligently on the initiative, gathering feedback from community members.

Perucca and Micah Kubic of LISC first met with individual neighborhoods to determine quality of life goals and then gathered all four neighborhoods together during the final Quality of Life Planning Session.

“We had an excellent turnout from all four neighborhoods. There was a lot of diversity in the room, too,” Kubic said.

Those in attendance included area residents, business owners, non profit agencies and other stakeholders, Kubic said.

Each neighborhood developed five goals, which were discussed during the final planning session. As a group, attendees whittled down 27 goals into five.

“Public safety was the No. 1 concern,” Perucca said. “What was really cool about this process was there was remarkable unanimity amongst the neighborhoods. They really had shared values and shared goals.”

In addition to improving public safety, other goals included increasing economic activity, improving the area housing stock, higher quality public transportation and developing a culture that promotes a clean and litter-free environment.

Once attendees narrowed down the goals, they listed action steps for each goal, timelines, responsible parties and the necessary resources.

The Quality of Life Plan will be included in the Paseo Gateway Transformation Plan, which is expected to be finished later this summer. Copies of the plan will be distributed to residents who attended the meetings and will also be available online at www.paseogateway.com and www.lisc.org.

Once HAKC receives a notice of available funds, it will apply for a HUD implementation grant. Other funding avenues will also be researched. A number of the goals can be implemented without additional funding and it’s a plan that won’t gather dust on a shelf, Kubic said.

“We’re very excited about the potential for the Northeast and the Paseo Gateway,” Kubic said. “The stars and the moon are aligned to really make dramatic progress on all the things residents have been saying for a long time they wanted to do. Now is the time to really do something about them and this Choice project is just one component of that broader momentum that is happening in the area.”

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