Saturday, September 19, 2009
Changes Coming to the Raytown Report
by Greg Walters Since the demise of the Raytown Post we have received a number of inquiries of the possibility of increasing the scope of the Raytown Report. In answer to those requests we are working on making changes to the format and content with an eye of moving from an editorial sounding board to a news source for Raytown. As we experiment and work to make these changes some will be kept, some will be tried and abandoned. You can also expect to see us crawl before we walk, and walk before we run, with any new changes. Some things will remain the same. The ability of our readers to share their thoughts with each other will continue to function as before. In other words, the blog portion of the Raytown Report will not change. Other changes will be immediate. For instance, we know there is a lot of interest in high school varsity sports in Raytown. So, we have offered part of our page to representatives from the three high schools in the Raytown area (O'Hara, Raytown and Raytown South) to report on their weekly games. To inaugurate that part of our plan you can expect to see the high school records published each week on this page. High School Football Standings Watch this page for regular updates of local high school varsity sports. O'Hara High School.....................3 win / 1 loss Raytown High School...................1 win / 3 loss Raytown South High School............3 win / 1 loss You can also look for more in depth reporting. As many of you know, my partner in the Raytown Report, Richard Tush, has been working on a project these last two weeks. Watch for its publication in early October. Who is Paying for the Monuments? A number of readers have asked who is paying for the intersection work at Gregory Boulevard and Raytown Road. The Mayor and Board of Aldermen have been criticized for the construction of "monuments" planned for inclusion at the intersection. The monuments will be similar to the obilesks in place at Blue Ridge Cut-off and 63rd Street, and at the southern entrance to the re-built railroad bridge entering Downtown Raytown. One writer asked if city or state tax dollars funded the monuments. The exact amount of who pays what is not important. Suffice to say that the lion's share of the project is paid for by the State of Missouri through road improvement funds. The balance is funded by our local sales tax dollars. From a point of view that you cannot drive or walk on them, or for that matter, do anything but look at them, the critics are correct, intersection monuments serve no practical purpose. The first such monumens were placed at 63rd and Blue Ridge to mark the intersection as a "gateway" to Raytown. The one near Downtown Raytown (at the old railroad bridge) was placed to mark an entrance to the Downtown. Original plans call for similar monuments at 63rd and Raytown Road as well. They are reminiscent of markers of residential areas throughout Kansas City. I suppose you could call them an art form of sorts. When it is completed, the new intersection will shine like a new penny -- monuments included. Therein lies the rub that leave people unhappy with some choices at City Hall. Let's face it, residential streets have proven to be a very low priority under Mayor Bower's watch. It may seem trivial to some, but why some city maintenance problems are routinely ignored while hundreds of thousands of dollars are used on a functioning intersection that does not have potholes, has good sidewalks, and decent traffic flow, makes some people angry. Consider the following. I live near Colman Park (located at Lane and 59th Streets). Like many of my neighbors, I walk my dog through the surrounding nighborhoods and the park. At the northern entrance of the park Lane Street is literally crumbling apart. City crews went through, and, from the looks of it, threw down some asphalt on three small potholes, stomped on it, and walked away from a job poorly done at best. Now, go up to City Hall and check out the new sidewalk in front of our city's governmental center, to the south you will see new asphalt covering the city hall parking lot. I've seen our city crews do work on intersections, cut out entire sections of bad pavement and replace it in a professional way that would make anyone proud. So I know they are capable of fixing the problem correctly. The work at city hall also shows an ability to do a job well. To continue . . . a couple of years back the parks department installed a bag dispenser for people who walk their pets in the park to clean up after the animals. All agreed, it was a very good idea. It helps to keep the park clean and allows the good people of Raytown who walk their dogs at the park (and their are a lot of them) to be responsible citizens. But -- and this is the important point -- the dispenser has been empty for well over two months. If they are not going to fill the dispenser with bags, why leave the empty container in place? Park officials can see the empty container from the doorway of the park headquarters and from the park's maintenance garage. So you can assume they are well aware the dispenser is empty. Like the street work at the northern entrance to the park. The lack of proper action is a constant reminder to the taxpayers of how low they sit on the totem pole of municipal priorites. Why is shoddy and inadequate service tolerated? At the end of the day, the fault lies with those we elect to run our city. Collectively speaking, that is the Mayor and Board of Aldermen. They have a responsibility to see that we receive good service for our tax dollars. The evidence is overwhelming that they do not do so. So what does this have to do with monuments? Everything! The empty bag dispenser, the poorly repaired street, the lack of maintenance on residential streets, are all reminders of an indifference from city hall that is appalling. The new intersection at Gregory and Raytown Road will shine like a new penney. So should the repair and maintenance of ALL our streets and public areas. Raytowners pay the second highest sales tax in the 20 plus cities that make up the Kansas City metropolitan area. Thanks to the collective greed of the Raytown School Board, Park Board and City Council we now have one of the highest propety tax rates in the area as well. We deserve better service for our tax dollars than we are receiving.