This community-minded NewsDog is hoppin’ mad and no, it has nothing to do with the results of last week’s Presidential election.
No, our venom this week is directed at Downtown Council VP of Business Development Sean O’Byrne and Fourth District City Councilman Eric “Bicycle Bully” Bunch and their idiotic and short-sighted plan to erect a tent city for transients on the site of the recently demolished Chouteau Courts Housing Project, all done with zero, you read that right, zero, outreach and discussion with neighborhoods and stake holders in the Historic Northeast community.
City Scene Magazine, the house organ for the Downtown Council, broke the story last week with all the right heart-wrenching pictures of snow covered tarps and some poor, unfortunate sot kneeling in the snow somewhere near downtown. This dog finds it very interesting this dude’s jacket looked brand-spankin new and exceptionally clean for someone living on the streets. Certainly makes one wonder if the whole thing wasn’t staged in order to advance the Downtown Council’s narrative.
But the Dog digresses. It doesn’t take a lot of research to learn the former Chouteau Courts site is part of a $30 million dollar HUD, Paseo Gateway redevelopment plan that has for years promised mixed-use development on the site. The land in question belongs to the Housing Authority and apparently they didn’t get a heads up on it from this bunch of well intentioned do-gooders either. Also not part of the discussion was the $12 million Independence & Paseo intersection redevelopment plan, due to break ground in the first quarter of 2021. Councilman Bunch is privy to all of this information as a city official, yet he and O’Byrne moved forward with their meeting inside the vacuum of the ivory tower at the Downtown Council.
As noted earlier, representatives from the bordering Northeast neighborhoods and business groups were not in attendance at this little confab either. The Dog spoke with a number of small business folks and neighborhood residents in the Paseo West neighborhood who are already over-run with the transient population that eats, sleeps, and eliminates on their properties and not one of them was consulted about this proposal. Seems someone whose title is VP of Business Development, that’s you Mr. O’Byrne, certainly should have known the negative impacts on area businesses this little feel-good project would have had. But then again, this is all about you and your elitist brood lookin’ good and to hell with everyone else who gets in the way.
Also not taken into consideration is the fact that two other nearby cities, Wichita and St. Joseph, have shuttered all of their overnight shelter facilities and bus their transient population to the Kansas City Greyhound station a scant four blocks away. And what about that $200,000 this initiative is supposed to cost? That scratch better not be coming out of city taxpayer funds, especially when some municipal employees are being asked to take a one week unpaid furlough.
Here’s a thought, if helping these drunken, begging sots who refuse to go to a shelter is so important: how about housing them on some of the vacant floors down at 1000 Walnut where the Downtown Council offices? On site dry cleaner, food court, 24-hour security, who could ask for more? Better yet, if they’re so concerned about the “humanitarian crisis,” created by these individuals who actually like living off the grid, maybe Councilman Bunch or Sean O’Byrne can offer yard space for some pup-tents and poop shelters on their lawns.
Here’s the bottom line. We in the Northeast community are sick of getting dumped on. By design through government sponsored “programs” and “projects” the Northeast community has been the dumping ground for society’s flotsam and jetsam for decades, dating back to the late 1940’s when back-room meetings at City Hall decided to run a highway through the heart of the neighborhood and thus bring a once-powerful voting block to its knees.
The Downtown Council’s decision to place this camp on the site of the old Chouteau Courts housing project was not by accident, it was by design, given the number of social service agencies that are already close by that cater to these individuals. Well, we’re done. With all due respect, the Downtown Council can take their tent city proposal and stick it where the sun don’t shine.