Sunday, November 23, 2008
Raytown/Walmart Landfill Controversy
The company hired by Walmart to clear land for their new store on 350 Highway has been dumping the debris one mile east of the new location on Westridge Road. The dump can be viewed from Westridge Road between East and West bound Highway 350. You will not need directions to find it once you are there. The dump is made up of earth, concrete, asphalt and rock from the new Walmart location. The debris is easily whipped up by the dry fall winds common to the Midwest at this time of year. The result is a fine film of dust which settles on nearby homes, businesses and cars. The city requires that large construction projects (such as the Walmart development) submit a plan as to what they will do with debris from a construction site. So it is not a surprise to city officials that the landfill dump has been created. But what has happened has far surpassed the guidelines set out in the plan. A local businessman brought the complaint forward at the Board of Aldermen’s last meeting. Mayor Bower would not allow any public discussion of the matter at the meeting because, in his words, it was not “on the agenda”. The city has since ordered Walmart’s construction company to quit dumping at the site. That’s a good start. Now the city should go back to the construction company and fine them for the damage done to neighboring property owners. The unsightly debris should be removed. And this is the important part, not at taxpayer expense. Raytowners have already forked over enough in tax breaks and added sales taxes for Walmart to locate here. Making them pay for cleaning up Walmart’s mess would be adding insult to injury. Another Idea . . . City Engineers are currently working on plans for a new bridge on 63rd Street in Downtown Raytown. What most people do not know is that the plans are not for a conventional bridge but for a tunnel. If the Board of Aldermen accepts the design, a large earthen structure with sloping sides (sealed with stamped concrete) would be built to support he roadway. The design cost less to build, is virtually maintenance free and is expected to last much longer than a conventional bridge. Here’s the “idea” part. The structure would require tons of earth fill the area between the street and railroad tracks below. Now where can such a pile of dirt and rock be found? Time for Open Discussion . . . Mayor Bower is making a mistake by not allowing Board members and city officials to respond to individuals during the Public Comments portion of City Council meetings. The image left is one of an uncaring City Council reluctant to publicly address problems before them. Open communication is the first step to solving any problem. A change in policy allowing free-wheeling discussion at City Council meetings would send a positive message to Raytowners. It would also send an unspoken invitation to the public to become more involved in their community. Some will say that such a policy will get out of hand and create controversy where none is needed. Not true. I have sat on many Boards under many Mayors. Those who chose to allow open discussion, Bob Grissom, Doug Hall, Willard Ross and Jack Nesbitt, were able to handle the meetings from their position as Mayor acting as Chairman of the City Council. After all, it is part of the job description. There are those at City Hall who "talk the talk" that Raytown’s government is wide open to public inspection. It is a good thought. They should follow that good step and “walk the walk” by allowing open discussion between the citizens and their elected officials at City Council meetings.