Time for the Parks Department to step it up

It’s been quite a while since the city’s Parks and Recreation Department has been in this Dog’s crosshairs, but that all changes this week.

While the Parks Department oversees some of the most beautiful municipal assets in the country, the Dog would like to offer up some constructive criticism on some long overdue maintenance issues that need some acute attention along one of the city’s most historic byways, Cliff Drive.

In 1986, a coalition of Northeast neighborhood leaders banded together and formed the Cliff Drive Task Force with the intended purpose to reclaim Cliff Drive and restore the drive to its largely original status.

That work was capped off in 1987 when a proud Parks Department, along with Neighborhood leaders, cut the ribbon on a pristine Cliff Drive.

The energy and work continued throughout the 1990s and 2000s, culminating with Cliff Drive being named Missouri’s only urban Scenic ByWay on June 2, 2000.

With that title came extra dollars from the state for maintenance and improvements with oversight by a citizen committee, the Cliff Drive Corridor Management Committee.

Now, four years after a major infusion of roughly $900,000 in improvements, Cliff Drive is once again starting to show her age and not in a good way.

Those improvements included new stairways, walking paths connecting the drive with the Columbus Park area the rebuilding of several of the stone walls along the byway.
Our noon-time constitutionals along the western end of the drive have turned up a number of issues directly related to the poor maintenance practices of the Parks Department and the lack of attention to detail by the city’s contracted mowing crews.

Some of those issues include:

a.) Mowing, issue A, Cliff Drive. Where there were once small glades where wildlife regularly grazed are now overgrown with weeds.


b.) Mowing Issue B, Cliff Drive. Retaining walls are regularly overgrown with weeds and vines, hiding the decorative stone wall as well as the hand-laid limestone curbs along the drive.


c.) Mowing Issue C, Cliff Drive. Grassy areas along both sides of the drive are a hot mess. Mowing is hit-and-miss at best and when done, done sloppily and without any trimming around light poles or curbs.


d.) Mowing issue D, Cliff Drive, Chestnut Trwy. Where there was once a discernible line between forest and parkway has now been overgrown with weeds that often reach 8 feet in height.


e.) Mowing issue E, Concourse Park. Apparently this is what passes for acceptable when it comes to mowing in a city park. This looks more like a poorly harvested alfalfa field than a city park, especially with grass clippings and litter blown in the street by the contractor.

f.) Maintenance, Cliff Drive gates. Gates at all of the entrances are bent, broken or in general disrepair.

g.) Trash & Litter. Trash, construction debris, and litter continue to be dumped with relative immunity along Cliff Drive. The Dog gets that it’s impossible to catch everyone. That said, regular tours by Parks maintenance crews relieving the drive of said debris would go a long way on improvements.

h.) General Maintenance. Trails once cleared and maintained are now largely overgrown and used not so much by cyclists and hikers but by vagrants and transients.
The Dog would like to challenge the Parks Department and the Parks Board to step up their game. The citizens of Kansas City and the residents of the Historic Northeast community deserve better, especially when it comes to maintenance along Cliff Drive and Kessler Park, the park named for the original architect of the city’s Parks and Boulevard system.

The Parks Department likes to make a lot of PR hay out of their connection to Kessler, but right now, we just ain’t feelin that love.

To that end, this community-minded News-pooch never likes to point out a problem without proposing some possible solutions to the above noted maintenance gaps.

A.) C-CAP Workers. The use of non-violent offenders by neighborhood associations is not a new concept. Four hours of work on a Saturday morning by four C-CAP people equates to sixteen man-hours of work the Parks Department doesn’t have to pay for. The only requirement for that resource is a supervisor who can sign off on the work for their probation officer. This is a never-ending resource of young people working off fines to keep their backside out of the pokey.

B.) Incentivize the help. We’re relatively certain the Brass Hats at the Parks Department and on the Parks Board get event tickets to such venues as Starlight Theater or the Sprint Center. How about turnin’ loose of some of those hotly-coveted perks to some of the community volunteers who take it upon themselves to do clean ups in the city’s parks. While we’re on the subject of community appreciation…

C.) Back in the 1990s, the Parks Department showed their appreciation to those who volunteer in the city’s parks by throwing a party and BBQ in Swope Park in their honor. Hundreds of volunteers were recognized for their tireless volunteer work in the city’s parks. Such an action would go a long way in terms of in the community knowing the city’s parks board and Parks Department strongly supported their volunteer actions.

Lastly, the Dog would offer the cooperation and assistance of countless volunteers from the Historic Northeast community in keeping things in ship shape. There’s a renewed effort in the community to ensure that Cliff Drive maintains its rightful place in the city’s parks and boulevard system. With a new mayor and a new City Council, the time is now to push the reset button.

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.

  • Follow the process

    September 23rd, 2020

    Diane EustonGuest Columnist I’m an historian who focuses on Kansas City’s unique and fascinating past who was one of the […]

    Time for action

    September 2nd, 2020

    We’re done. This News Dog is sick of the ongoing lawlessness and criminal actions of the vagrants who continue to […]

    Rearranging the deck chairs

    August 26th, 2020

    If you’ve driven by the intersection of I-435 and Winner Road/US 24/Independence Avenue over the last few years you’re more […]

    City council gone rogue

    August 12th, 2020

    If ever there was a reason for the Kansas City Missouri Police Department to remain under state control, your gone-rogue, […]

    And the cop hate continues

    June 30th, 2020

    This community-minded News Dog normally likes to steer clear of neighborhood politics and operations. As a former neighborhood association president, […]

    A Department Gutted

    June 10th, 2020

    Last Thursday, in a carefully orchestrated and timed bit of political theater, the Jackson County prosecutor and the Kansas City […]

    Another Blue Ribbon Commission

    May 27th, 2020

    Last Wednesday, Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas announced the formation of another blue ribbon commission deployed to “study” the upward […]

    When you’re on your own, we are there with you.

    March 31st, 2020

    This week, the Dog is yielding space for a much more important message from The Missouri Press Association and the […]

  • Support community journalism

    March 25th, 2020

    Over the last few weeks, this community-minded Newsdog has seen an outpouring of support on social media for local businesses […]

    I’ll take panic and hysteria for $500, Alex

    March 18th, 2020

    If anyone would have told this Newsdog a month ago that the United States would be living through what we […]

    Out of control

    March 11th, 2020

    Last week, the second fire in as many weeks broke out in a large transient encampment in the wooded areas […]

    Journalism, the Northeast News through an intern’s eyes

    March 4th, 2020

    Kalie StrainEditorial Assistant I made the decision to major in journalism on a whim and it has been a wild […]

    Cut, cut, cut

    February 26th, 2020

    The new City budget is out and, for all intents and purposes, it should have come with a pair of […]

    Community journalism, why it matters

    February 19th, 2020

    Last week, McClatchy, the company that owns the Kansas City Star, declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy, transferring control of the city’s […]

    Time for change

    February 12th, 2020

    Last weekend, the Newsdog traveled to Austin, Texas to assist with the Ronald Reagan Great Communicator Debate Series.  While visiting […]

    A bright light now gone

    February 5th, 2020

    Kansas City lost a bright light earlier this week when noted journalist, radio host, foodie, and author Charles Feruzza passed […]

  • Faces Of Northeast

  • Remember This?

  • retorts illustrated by bryan stalder

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