By Leslie Collins
August 31, 2011
Don’t discredit them because they’re young. These 20-somethings are ardent about their work and the idea of creating a Community Improvement District (CID) in Historic Northeast.
Since June, these interns have been roaming the halls of Kansas City’s City Hall and the streets of Northeast.
City Council member Scott Wagner recruited one intern, Erin Mullally, and the other two, Nick Hawkins and Katherine Carttar, came on board through the Cookingham-Noll Management Fellowship program.
It’s a really fascinating opportunity, Carttar said of interning for Kansas City.
Both Carttar and Hawkins will complete three rotations this year in the city manager’s office, budget office and 311 Action Center and during their second and final year, will be placed in a city department based on the city’s needs and the interns’ interests.
It can be slightly overwhelming at times – just how large, how many departments and how many people there are, but it’s pretty amazing because everyday you find out something else the city does, Carttar said.
Hawkins, a Kansas City native, agreed.
As college graduates, the interns are dabbling in a variety of city happenings, ranging from preparing for next year’s Major League Baseball’s All-Star game in Kansas City to helping the city become more green friendly to sitting at round tables about youth violence and more.
That’s one of the great things about being in a city this large – any area that you’re interested in, whether it’s public health or aviation or sustainability, you can find your niche and some interesting projects that way, Carttar said. We’ve been acting as sponges and soaking up as much information as we can.
Just being able to be young and in this position and being able to help people, that’s the greatest thing about it, Mullally said. We’re young and we’re getting to do something we love.
All agreed there’s no typical day with the city.
Half of it’s planning and coordinating and the other half is flying by the seat of your pants, Hawkins said.
Working at the city, the interns have experienced a city staff who embraces them and offers encouragement. Employees expect opinions from the interns and tell them to become involved in as many projects as they desire. Mullally described the city council as youth friendly and one that’s looking forward to working with a younger generation.
Rolling out a CID in Northeast
Although the interns are dabbling in a number of projects, one project is unprecedented.
Earlier this summer, the city launched a CID/Neighborhood Improvement District (NID) Revolving Loan Fund to help communities with the startup costs of forming a CID or NID.
Historic Northeast has become the pilot project in the new revolving loan fund and the Northeast Kansas City Chamber of Commerce was loaned $40,000 to establish a CID along Independence Boulevard. A CID establishes a self-imposed tax to fund public improvements and plan business services to stimulate the local economy. However, establishing a CID requires approval from both the property owners and residents within the proposed CID boundaries.
Currently, the interns are coordinating with the Northeast Chamber and CID Steering Committee to create a plan. The interns have also met with other area CIDs to learn about their initial challenges and successes.
I think it’s a really exciting opportunity, Carttar said. With so many of our projects, we’re coming in and only working on a small section. So, this has been really great to start at the beginning and really see the whole scope and have the opportunity to make a pretty significant contribution.
I think one of the ultimate goals, Hawkins said, is to help them (Northeast Chamber and CID Steering Committee) reach their goals and their vision of what the Northeast can be like because it’s such a diverse area with a lot of history.
It’s fallen on tough times like a lot of other neighborhoods in the city, but there’s a lot there and the people we’ve worked with have a good vision for what the area can be.