Residents willing to be change agents in NEKC

Posted August 26, 2014 at 11:00 pm

By Joe Jarosz
Northeast News
August 27, 2014

KANSAS CITY, Missouri – For two nights in a row last week, Major Rick Smith and members of the East Patrol Division of the Kansas City Police Department took the time to listen to the concerns of the area they serve.

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Northeast issues. [From left} Assistant Jackson County Prosecutor Caleb Clifford, City Manager Troy Schulte, Major Rick Smith and Scarritt Renaissance Neighborhood Association president Leslie Caplan listen to Northeast residents. Joe Jarosz

This, time, however, Smith was joined by City Manager Troy Schulte and Caleb Clifford, Assistant Jackson County prosecutor, as well as various other city representatives, for a community forum at the Kansas City Museum, where members of the Scarritt Renaissance Neighborhood Association gathered to discuss issues within their neighborhood and across the Northeast. Leslie Caplan, president of the SRNA, moderated the forum. Clifford reminded the crowd that the Northeast area has two neighborhood prosecutors available to them, either for questions or help.

“We’re frustrated with the lack of progress and this could be the next step over the wall,” Caplan said at the beginning of the forum.

Throughout the two hour forum, topics discussed by area residents included the fate of a house on Gladstone Boulevard, prostitution, homeless camps along Cliff Drive and vacant houses. Schulte mentioned the targeted demolition slated to begin next year for vacant houses in the Northeast. The important thing for the city once that begins, he added, is to preserve the character of the neighborhood.

“The city can also do a systematic targeted code sweep,” Schulte said, explaining that the sweep would give landlords and property owners an opportunity to be proactive with code violations while at the same time punishing those who choose to do nothing. “Where ever you want to go, we’ll support you.”

Smith told the crowd the KCPD is actively going after the transient camps in area parks. Although there is no scheduled times one is allowed in parks, he said it would give the police another tool in their pocket if there were set times people can be in the parks.

“We need you to be our eyes and ears for this,” Schulte told the crowd, before he and Smith reminded the crowd that if people know of homeless camp locations, they should report those to the city and KCPD.

Tony Abbott, owner of Abbott Properties, said he manages around 250 units around the city. As someone who’s very involved in the area, he said he attended the forum because his company has a lot of properties in the Northeast area.

“There’s a lot of crime and I’m concerned about the area,” Abbott said.

In an email sent out after the meeting, Caplan said the meeting was very successful.

“I would echo those comments and believe that we walked away with some important commitments from the city and police and a strong willingness of dedicated residents who are willing to be change agents in our neighborhood,” Caplan said.