Crowd to City Hall by Greg Walters
Willow Street between 70th Terrace and 71st Terrace should be called a lane rather than a street. It is paved. It is narrow. It has no curbs or ditches. When two vehicles going opposite directions meet on the street, one of the two drivers must pull to the side to let the other pass. (see aerial view of Willow Street below - 70th Terrace is the wide street at the top of the picture, Willow is the vertical street running the length of the picture)
It is a situation that the people who live and travel on the 995 feet of roadway expect and accept.
Recently, the city’s Public Works Department decided to turn the street into a “one way” roadway headed to the north. The decision has caused an uproar from surrounding neighborhoods.
Apparently, the only notification of the change was made to those who lived on Willow. None of the neighbors on adjoining streets or neighborhoods were asked their opinion of the suggested change.
Last Tuesday, twelve people addressed the Board of Aldermen on what they consider to be a poor decision by the Public Works Department. They have asked the Board to reverse the decision or at the very least, come up with a better plan.
Their arguments are reasonable.
Willow is used by area residents as an alternative route to the busy intersection of 70th Terrace and Raytown Road for many destinations, including local merchants, South Brooke Swimming pool, and a number of area churches.
Area residents told the Board that by changing Willow to a north bound street, residents are forced to use Raytown Road to for short trips to area merchants, churches and a local swimming pool (South Brooke Pool). This requires motorists to make a left hand turn and cross two lanes of traffic at the intersection of Raytown Road and 70th Terrace. The change increases traffic at an intersection (Raytown Road / 70th Terrace) that is prone to automobile accidents.
The one way designation also applies to children who use the route when riding their bicycles to the South Brooke pool.
There were no speakers in favor of changing the street to a one way designation. None of the members of the Board of Aldermen spoke to the issue.
EDITOR'S NOTE: The Willow Street situation is scheduled for public discussion at the next meeting of the Raytown Board of Aldermen. That meeting will be held Tuesday, September 7, 2010 at 7:00 p.m. at Raytown City Hall (10000 East 59th Street).
The public will be allowed to speak at this meeting.
On a personal note, I grew up half a block from the section of Willow Street under discussion. It was then and is still a popular short cut for youngsters on their way to the South Brooke pool and for events at the First Baptist Church. The alternative is taking a round-about journey along Raytown Road that adds an additional four blocks by vehicle or bicycle. - Greg Walters
Poor Communication Should be Addressed
Clearly, the ball was dropped by someone at City Hall in handling the Willow Street discussion. Neighborhoods affected by the change were not notified. Because of that mis-step, valid arguments from locals were not aired before the change was considered.
But the mishandling does not stop there.
A number of the speakers at the meeting complained that when they called the Public Works Department about their opposition to the change, they were told, “you’re the first or second person to call us about this”.
Tuesday night’s speakers quickly laid that falsehood to rest.
Equally disturbing is the fact that members of the Board of Aldermen, particularly the two Aldermen representing the people from the Willow Street neighborhoods (Jim Aziere and Jim Hamilton) did not address the situation.
Aldermen have the authority to bring items before the Board. At the very least a simple motion could have placed a moratorium on the change and removed the one way street signs until a reasonable solution could be reached.
Because the Board of Aldermen did not have any discussion nor make a decision, local residents must wait another two weeks before the situation is addressed.
The errors in how city hall managed the situation were not the fault of the neighborhoods. They should not have to wait.
Incidents like the Willow Street debacle shine a bright light on City Hall. In this case it exposed a not too pretty picture. The events in this situation could be used as a primer on how NOT to run a city.
The Board of Aldermen should investigate and correct what is clearly a misguided decision. It would also be appropriate to change the rules that govern there meetings so that taxpayers are not left waiting for solutions to simple problems.
Non-Resident Argument Re-kindled
Another issue not discussed at last Tuesday’s meeting, but just as viable, is how such an uninformed decision arrived at in the first place.
It is clear from the testimony from people as far away as three blocks in both directions that the street is regularly used by children on bicycles and parents who frequent a neighborhood swimming pool in the area. The one way streets forces both bicyclists and motorists to take a more treacherous route with at least two left hand turns across four lanes of traffic.
Would department heads who are a part of the community have recognized the local use of the roadway? Would they have insight as to why the change is not a good idea?
Raytown remains the only city in the metropolitan area in which all appointed senior members of the city staff are non-residents.
TO YOUR HEALTH! by Jenn Walters
Attack of the Mutant Garden Vegetables
I love summer for a number of reasons. The sun, the flowy dresses, early morning runs in the daylight, warm evenings with a Bomb Pop dripping down my chin…summer rocks. Maybe it’s the extra vitamin D or the warm weather, but I always drop 5 pounds this time of year (note: I always gain 5 in the winter, so it all works out). I also start saving significantly on my grocery bill. And it’s not because I eat less or stockpile coupons…it’s because my backyard becomes a produce department. Full of organic, pesticide-free veggies.
Now, I am no expert on planting a garden, but this year—our second attempt at developing a green thumb—our garden is ridiculous. In a 4-foot-by-24-foot strip, we managed to cram severaltomato varieties, numerous types of bell peppers, zucchini, cucumbers, eggplant and asparagus. Oh, and a few potted herbs,habanero and jalapeño plants. It’s a jungle up in here.
Turns out we have pretty good beginner’s luck when it comes to vegetable gardening, too. Check out this year’s first big harvest in the photo above, including one zucchini that definitely exceeds the “large” category and cruises right into the “mutant” category.
Going to the garden has become a thrilling ritual for me. It’s better than getting the mail when you’re eight. I crawl in the garden through an elaborate chickenwire fence my hubby made to keep our dog out (she can clear 4 feet, so it’s not a beautiful part of our yard, but I’ve stopped caring now that the space is feeding my grape-tomato obsession) and then lift the giant zucchini-plant leaves to see what new goodies are hiding. Every day I find some MASSIVE cucumber that I swear wasn’t there the day before. My neighbors must think I’m insane, as—like clockwork—I dive into my overgrown garden (the tomato plants are over 6 feet tall at this point) and then squeal with delight at what I find. Hey, it’s the little things.
The veggies are so big that I really wonder if someone sprinkled steroids or creatine over the soil. I know that compost is good and all, but I had no idea that composting our yard waste last year would be so fruitful this year. And healthy for us.
Now that we have all this produce laying around, even my husband sees the need to snack on raw veggies just to keep up with the pace of our little veggie factory. I’ve made veggie lasagna, pasta, pizza, soup, frittatas,burritos, salads…it’s all becoming a bit Bubba Gump. But, I love it. And once I can’t keep up (which is probably only weeks away as the big tomatoes are starting to get big and poppin’ red), I’ll happily share them with friends, neighbors, family and anyone who’s willing to try an organic mutant vegetable.
Now, I have little experience with gardening, and like I said before, am no expert. But, I have learned a few lessons that I’m happy to share.
Five Gardening Tips from a Non-Expert 1. Never plant more than one zucchini plant. You’ll be tempted to plant more when you first put them in the ground, but do…not…do…it. Resist the temptation.
2. Keep it closed. A fence around the garden keeps out critters large and small, domestic or wild.
3. If you like to cook, plant a crapton of expensive herbs. If I had to buy basil to make pesto, it would easily cost me $10. Instead, a couple of $1.95 plants last me for three months. THREE MONTHS OF TASTY PESTO. I wish I had the room to grow olive trees.
4. Space es bueno. Unless you want your cucumber vines attacking your bell pepper plants (and as someone with experience with this, believe me, you don’t), give your plants plenty of space to grow.
5. Cover the ground. I save time and water by covering the soil with grass clippings. It keeps the ground moist and gives me a legal place to dump my grass. Score!
If you’re looking for real tips by people who know what they’re doing, check out Martha Stewart’s gardening section on her website. It might make you feel inadequate (or maybe that’s just me…), but it sure does have some good advice for those looking to garden in a big yard, small space or containers in an apartment. And it has pretty pictures.
Last Week’s Poll Results