May 10, 2017
It was a banner weekend in Historic Northeast, with a variety of activities taking place that make this community a better place to call home. Saturday morning neighbors in Scarritt and Indian Mound rallied to clean up their neighborhoods, filling up more than eight trash trucks with yard waste, bulky trash and old tires. Later that afternoon the Kansas City Museum hosted its second annual Derby party on the museum grounds. A gala event that brings people from all over the city to Historic Northeast’s own Robert A. Long mansion for an afternoon of over the top chapeaus and mint juleps, all to watch a sporting event that’s a scant two minutes long.
A common conversation theme at both events was the city’s Landmarks Commission and their woefully inept actions in the preservation of Kansas City history. The last straw for everyone this dog spoke with was the Colonial Court apartments vote the commission took a couple weeks back, attempting to de-list the historic, colonnaded apartment buildings from the Pendleton Heights Historic District so that KCU could raze the buildings and move forward with their development plans for additional surface parking. This feisty news-dog even heard this doozy of a quote from a local history denizen who resides in one of Northeast’s Historic Districts: “I’ll not notify Landmarks if I choose to make changes to my house. They’re a worthless department and they enforce nothing.”
This dog couldn’t agree more and has since started ignoring exterior modifications to area homes that may not have lined up with the city’s Urban Design Guidelines book, the so-called bible that is, at least in theory, supposed to be followed by the Landmarks Commission in the preservation of the integrity of local historic structures and districts. This dog wants to know from Kansas City’s top paid official in charge of preserving the city’s historic building stock, how many historic preservation violations have been prosecuted in the last ten years? The Dog knows the answer to that question and it’s a fat zero, which is why so much of the city’s history sits in a landfill instead of being intact as a contributing property in a designated Historic District.
This dog thinks it’s time for a fresh start in the city’s Historic Preservation division, and that start would include the dismissal of the Department’s Director, Brad Wolf, as well as all of the current sitting Historic Preservation Commissioners who can’t seem to grasp that historic preservation is part of the job description.