Sunday, May 18, 2008
Random Thoughts About Raytown's Future
Is there a silver bullet that will solve Raytown’s economic woes in the midst of a recession? No, probably not. Recessions are economic times in which developers hunker down and wait it out for better opportunities in the future. They keep their eyes open and look for opportunities. But until the economy revives, and that will not happen until fuel prices stabilize, don’t look for a lot new building going up anywhere. There are still things the city should do in preparation of those better times. In Raytown’s case, tearing down the old First Baptist Church is a good move and will become a reality in the very near future. Plans are in place to rebuild the 63rd Street Bridge and a new intersection at Gregory Boulevard and Raytown Road is in the works. But a huge proportion of that funding is coming from federal, state, and county sources. It alone will not create any new retail venues in Raytown. But the improvements will go a long way in helping to improve the city’s image. If we are to believe with what has been shared on these pages by small business owners like Pat Casady and Shari Wells (former owner of City Grounds), there is a lot the city can do in changing its attitude toward the small business owner. A successful and vibrant Raytown is something in which the small business owner will share in the profit. That is the incentive they have to succeed. The small business remains the economic backbone of any community because spent in small businesses stays within the community. In a perfect world, City Hall should be viewed as a help to the small businessman. Unfortunately, many small business owners do not view Raytown City Hall in that vein. A vital area in which city fathers have been remiss is maintenance of the city’s infrastructure. Outside of rehabilitation of the sanitary sewer system, City Hall has a vital part of Raytown’s infrastructure to deteriorate. The roads our people use every day are badly in need of repair. How people feel about their community is important. But it is hard to feel good about where you live if you have to dodge potholes and skid through crumbling intersections in your own neighborhood on a daily basis. A back to basics approach in city services would serve Raytown well. The annual city clean-up scheduled for May 31st (8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the Joe Herndon Votech Center) is a good start. The city should follow up with a day later this summer where brush and tree debris can be discarded as well. Parts of Raytown look like an old growth forest. Waiting for a storm to force us to trim trees is not a very good plan of managing that forest. For the first time in over six years, the city is finally putting up some new streetlights in residential neighborhoods. We saw how effective new street lighting can be in deterring crime and bad behavior at Colman Park a couple years ago. A program to slowly but steadily increases the street lighting in residential neighborhoods will go a long way to not only reducing crime but also to regain the taxpayers’ trust. The Board of Aldermen will soon begin a series of meetings in preparation of the 2008 – 2009 budget year. It is an excellent opportunity for them to “right” the good ship Raytown and move forward with a more balanced approach to city services. Getting back to the basics of running a community, the streets, neighborhoods and development of small business is the course to go. LAST WEEK’S RIDDLE: What do Gladstone, Lee's Summit, Peculiar, Harrisonville, and Kansas City have in common with Raytown. Answer: Six of Raytown’s eight appointed department heads make their home in those communities. Up until the term of former Mayor Jack Nesbitt (1996 – 2000), all Raytown department heads lived within Raytown’s city limits.