By JOE JAROSZ
May 21, 2014
Editor’s note: The following piece is the third in a series of interviews and articles about neighborhood associations in the Northeast.
KANSAS CITY, Missouri – For nearly 15 years, Mark Morales has been involved with his neighborhood association.
But only for the past year and a half has Morales been the president of the Sheffield Neighborhood Association. For Morales, a neighborhood association is a group of people who come together to better utilize their strengths.
“At the same time, we listen to the residents [who come to the meetings] and while they usually come up with their own solutions to their challenges, we provide them the resources to tackle their problems,” Morales said. “It’s people coming together to improve the quality of life in the neighborhood.”
The boundaries for the Sheffield Neighborhood Association include the Kansas City railroad tracks on the north, 12th Street on the south, Hardesty to the west and Winchester Ave on the east and Wilson Road on the east. The association meets every fourth Monday of the month at 7 p.m. at Hope Academy, 1001 Bennington Ave.
Like every association, there are concerns for the members of Sheffield. One of the biggest, Morales said, is crime, specifically gang graffiti. His plan is to partner with other neighborhood associations with railroad underpasses in its boundaries and make them more aesthetically pleasing.
“The mural at Ninth [Street] and Hardesty [Avenue], the community came together for that,” Morales said. “I want to see more projects like that. We may not have the time to do murals, but maybe we can put flowers in those areas to spruce it up.”
Other concerns Morales and the association face include a lack of leaders and membership participation. He said he wants to reach out to those within the boundaries and, soon, plans to go door-to-door to talk directly with residents to learn about the issues and challenges in the neighborhood.
“I want to talk about challenges and provide the resources to help them solve it,” Morales said.
It’s not all challenges though. Morales said he’s excited about the Northeast Historical Society including several homes in the neighborhood on its historical tour. He also noted several members of the association have joined the Restore Justice Program through the Jackson County Prosecutor’s office. The association is also in the process of acquiring vacant lots to incorporate tree orchards into the neighborhood.
“They’re less maintenance than community gardens,” Morales said.
A long term goal, though, of the association’s is to reach out to neighborhood stakeholders like Jim Turner with the Hardesty Renaissance, to work together on solving the neighborhood’s problems together.
“We’ve got a lot of beautiful homes in the area and I also, eventually, want to start a housing committee to encourage more homeowners in the neighborhood,” Morales said.
The group is currently working on putting together a Facebook page. For more information on the Sheffield Neighborhood Association, call 816-231-2009.