Kessler Park camp fire sparks concern among neighbors

Still from video provided by John Bordeau via Facebook.

Unhoused people started a fire on Cliff Drive between gates one and two on Tuesday afternoon, sparking frustration among residents of Historic Northeast and recreational users of Kessler Park.

A video of the fire was posted in Northeast Facebook groups, and neighbors shared concern for the people camping there, the historic but crumbling Cliff Drive, an already environmentally stressed Kessler Park, and the larger problem of homelessness in Northeast Kansas City.

The video shows a gray smoke billowing out of a barrel, furniture, tents, and garbage right alongside Cliff Drive, which is closed to vehicle traffic but used by pedestrians and bikes.

The fire, which neighbors and park advocates are hoping brings to light the illegal activity in the park, prompted the Kessler Park/Cliff Drive Conservancy to pen a letter to Mayor Quinton Lucas, Third District Council People Melissa Robinson and Brandon Ellington, and Fourth District Council People Katheryn Shields and Eric Bunch.

“We respectfully ask that you address the homelessness problem plaguing Kessler Park and Cliff Drive,” the letter reads. “We ask that you come see first hand for yourself the trash, human waste, and living conditions that you all allow in our oldest and most historic park in Kansas City.”

“To say we are disappointed in city leadership is a vast understatement,” the letter continues. “Neighbors are concerned for their safety and getting angry at the not just the lack of concern by city leadership but the pure funneling of homeless folks to Kessler Park and throughout the Historic Northeast. Camping is not allowed at any other park….why here?”

Neighbors report the camp has grown exponentially over the past month, starting with a single tent, but there are now upwards of eight.

The City of Kansas City, Mo., and the Parks and Recreation Department have removed and cleaned up camps in the city’s parks, including on the front steps of City Hall, in a median in Westport, and at the former Belvidere Park at Independence and Paseo ahead of Paseo Gateway construction starting later this month.

Cliff Drive is a winding path that meanders through Kessler Park above the banks of the Missouri River. Nearby, 100-year-old houses stand close together, shaded by canopies of mature trees. In drier months, Northeast is a kindling box.

Neighbors have seen that unhoused people in camps have often started fires to cook, burn trash and stay warm. On March 2 in Jackson County, a special weather statement was issued for a “very high fire danger,” due to dry conditions and wind gusts occasionally around 20 to 25 miles per hour. With humidity values dropping down to around 10%, stronger gusts could make for dangerous conditions should a fire ignite, the National Weather Service in Kansas City/Pleasant Hill, Mo., reported.

The City of Kansas City, Mo., has implemented strategies for people wanting to get in out of the elements, but has not finalized a policy for those who choose to remain outdoors. Plans for a designated, monitored campsite homes remain unsuccessful.

The Park Department had not responded to a request for comment at the time of publication. This article will be updated to reflect a response if one is received.

Residents can report illegal dumping by calling 311. For a Park Ranger, call 816-799-7521 or email kcparkssecurity@kcmo.org. In an emergency, call 911.

Want Northeast News articles sent straight to your inbox each week? Subscribe below!
Enter your email address and click on the Get Instant Access button.
We respect your privacy

Comments are closed.

  • Show Me KC Schools, Samuel U. Rodgers Host Second Bounce Back to School Event

    August 6th, 2022
    by

    Back for its second year, Show Me KC Schools and Samuel U. Rodgers will host the Bounce Back to School […]


    Kansas City’s Most Wanted

    August 3rd, 2022
    by

    KC Crime Stoppers has partnered with The Kansas City’s Northeast News to help track local KC individuals on the Kansas […]


    LEC advocates for more Latinx educators

    August 3rd, 2022
    by

    By Aniaya Reed Edgar Palacios, President/CEO founded LEC (Latinx Education Collaborative) in 2018. His goal for his non-profit organization is […]


    Knowledge is Power Program moves forward

    August 3rd, 2022
    by

    By Aniaya Reed KIPP: Endeavor Academy, a tuition-free, open-enrollment public school, opened its doors in Kansas City in 2007 as […]


    Janet Raymer named 2021-2022 Frontier School District Teacher of the Year

    August 3rd, 2022
    by

    By EllieAna Hale This 2021-2022 Frontier School District Teacher of the Year award was granted to Janet Raymer, a seventh-grade […]


    Frontier receives $250,000 Kauffman grant

    August 3rd, 2022
    by

    By Aniaya Reed The Frontier School of Innovation, through the New Frontier Educational Foundation, will benefit from the Kauffman Foundation’s […]


    Gordon Parks Elementary School strives to elevate student success

    August 3rd, 2022
    by

    By EllieAna Hale Being one of the first charter schools in the Kansas City, Mo., area, Gordon Parks Elementary School […]


    Headstart Home-Based open opportunities for all parents

    August 3rd, 2022
    by

    By EllieAna Hale The Family Conservancy (TFC) has continually created sustainable education, and resource programs to provide equitable opportunities for […]


  • Burned mobile home mess abated by county

    August 3rd, 2022
    by

    A little over a day after the charred remains of an abandoned mobilehome moved from the old Heart Village Mobile […]


    Holy Cross Catholic School to break ground on new Community Center in 2022

    August 3rd, 2022
    by

    By EllieAna Hale Holy Cross School on Quincy Avenue plans to break ground this summer on the construction of a […]


    2022 Back To School issue

    August 3rd, 2022
    by

    Want Northeast News articles sent straight to your inbox each week? Subscribe below! Enter your email address and click on […]


    Election results of note from the August 2nd Primary Election

    August 3rd, 2022
    by

    The results are in from yesterday’s Primary election and the resultspromise some highly contested battles shaping up for the November […]


    Historic Northeast Homes Tour returns

    August 3rd, 2022
    by

    By Aniaya Reed After the COVID-19 pandemic took the world by storm, the Northeast Kansas City Historical Society (NEKCHS) was […]


    Chamber business ambassador makes long awaited trip home to Africa

    August 3rd, 2022
    by

    By Abby Hoover In life, there are challenges and there is progress. For Rol Deng Diing, Ambassador of Business Communications […]


    Reducing the energy burden for low-income homeowners

    August 3rd, 2022
    by

    The goal of the Share the Sun program is to reduce the energy burden for low- and moderate-income homeowners in […]


    Sam Davis ensures no holes in customers’ coverage

    August 3rd, 2022
    by

    Shelter Insurance agent Sam Davis has been serving residents of Northeast Kansas City for 29 years, and he isn’t showing […]


    Youth Court provides legal guidance for the youth

    August 3rd, 2022
    by

    By Aniaya Reed Kansas City’s Youth Court is a peer court for teenagers, with young offenders having their cases heard […]


    Community Calendar

    August 2nd, 2022
    by

    8/5 – Melissa and Company will bring Country Music to Friday in the Park at North Kansas City’s Festival Pavilion […]


    Preliminary results in two local races of note

    August 2nd, 2022
    by

    Current Results from the Kansas City Election Board Preliminary results from Kansas City polling places from the Kansas City Election […]


    Election Day!

    August 2nd, 2022
    by

    Polls are open. Please exercise your constitutional right to vote today. Important decisions will be made today at the ballot […]


  • Faces Of Northeast


  • Remember This?

    Remember This?

    August 3rd, 2022
    by

  • Want articles sent directly to your inbox each week? Subscribe below!
    We respect your privacy and will not distribute your information.