By Joe Jarosz
June 18, 2014
Editor’s note: The following piece is the final in a series of interviews and articles about neighborhood associations in the Northeast.
KANSAS CITY, Missouri – The social gathering will come.
But for now, the Independence Plaza Neighborhood Council is focused on cleaning up its streets.
Tom Ribera, now in his second term as the council’s president, said his first year was more about learning the ropes. The council is bouncing back and slowly gathering more members after a brief period of low participation. The former president, Lee Lambert, whom he admires greatly, lived in the Independence Plaza area for about 30 years. Ribera gives him a lot of credit for keeping the council alive during rough patches.
“He held it all together,” Ribera said. “I showed up and was appalled by the lack of involvement.”
Now, he said, the community is active. What’s helped increase membership and involvement, Ribera said, is its seriousness about upholding the law in its area and for its citizens. The area is also more serious about hosting street cleanings, too.
“Once we get cleaned up, then we’ll start having more social events,” Ribera said.
Some of the short term goals the council has is continuing to work with local institutes like the women’s shelter because of the relationship that’s been built. He would also like to eventually submit a request to the Public Improvements Advisory Committee (PIAC) for a skate park. Ribera said with the neighborhood’s three parks, a skate park would be a welcome addition.
“Those are big draws,” Ribera said.
The more longterm goals include social events to, once again, bring the community together in a safe and inviting atmosphere. He said the neighborhood is continually getting better, but if someone wants something done, they have to do it themselves.
“People have to be involved and get engaged,” Ribera said.
The boundaries for the council include Independence Avenue to the north, Benton Boulevard to the east, I-70 to the south, and Brooklyn Avenue and the Paseo to the west. The Independence Plaza Neighborhood Council meetings are held on the second Tuesday of the month at 6:30 p.m. in the library of the Woodland Elementary School, 711 Woodland Ave.
Independence Plaza. Steadily improving its membership base and cleaning up the parks and streets inside the Independence Plaza neighborhood boundaries, council president Tom Ribera sees things turning around, not just for the Independence Plaza neighborhood, but for the Northeast, as well. Kirstie Mulligan