Second meeting brings more clarity to plan

By Joe Jarosz
Northeast News
December 3, 2014

KANSAS CITY, Missouri — They’ve heard what you had to say about the park earlier this fall.

This past month, students from the Kansas City Design Center held a second meeting with members of the Northeast community at the North East Library, giving people an opportunity to view the analysis completed so far and in-progress designs of Kessler Park. More community feedback and ideas were also provided by the roughly 25 people in attendance.

Seven students with the KCDC are taking a closer look at Kessler Park and conducting a vision study as their final project. The students are focusing on repurposing the abandoned water reservoir, as well as an overall vision study of Kessler Park which would include new amenities and a master plan for the park. The boundaries defined for the project include Indiana Avenue on the east, Cliff Drive to the north, Paseo Boulevard on the west and Admiral Boulevard to the south.

Aaron Bisch, one of the students in the program, said the students had no involvement in the project which was conducted two years ago on Independence Avenue. During the 2012-13 academic year, the Kansas City Design Center, in collaboration with Northeast Alliance Together (NEAT) and the KCMO Planning Department, completed an urban vision study of Independence Avenue and the Historic Northeast neighborhood. Bisch said the students build off of past projects, something that is easy to do since all projects are located in Kansas City.

“A lot of research and analysis takes place in the first semester,” Bisch said, adding the students not only look at past projects, but work with Geographic Information Systems data, the Kansas City Parks and Recreations Department and stakeholders in the community.

By Christmas, the students hope to have a comprehensive vision plan for Kessler Park. Next semester, Bisch said, the students will dive deeper into the abandoned water reservoir.

“The research phase never truly ends,” Bisch said.

Through the first two community engagement meetings, Bisch said the reservoir definitely sticks out for people because, “a lot wonder what it could be.” But, he added, what the students have found to be the most interesting aspect of Kessler Park so far is its unique topography.

“Because it’s so unique, it allows for all these unique activities to happen there like disc golf or rock climbing,” Bisch said. “But, it also produces unique problems, as well, like water runoff.”

At the meeting, Bisch and fellow student Lindsey Brockhouse led the presentation on where the students are currently at with the research on the 303-acre park designed by George Kessler. With their vision study, both students said they’re going with big ideas for the city. Some of the bigger ideas the students have come up with include better connections to Independence Avenue, preserving the wild and limiting access to Cliff Drive.

“I think the really exciting thing for us as students is that we’re living in Kansas City as we’re designing something for Kansas City,” Bisch said. “When we work on projects back on campus, they’re more hypothetical. But for us to be able to go to the site of the park, spending a lot of time there taking pictures and hiking the trails, is incredibly helpful to the process. It’s also cool for us because when we propose our ideas, we can actually picture ourselves in the park. It makes the project more real because it’s in our backyard. It’s unique and realistic for us and is just preparing us better for our professions.”

The students will present their master plan at an open house at the Kansas City Design Center, 1018 Baltimore Ave., on Wednesday, Dec. 17. A time has not yet been determined. Interested members of the community can follow the students and their progress at http://kcdesigncenter.org/projects/kessler-park/.

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