By Paul Thompson
The South Kansas City Alliance connected eight city departments with constituents on Saturday, June 14, in the first of (hopefully) many “problem-solving” events to be held in South Kansas City.
Cribbed from the successful Northland neighborhood alliance problem-solving events, 6th District Councilman John Sharp suggested that the SKC Alliance attempt something similar with their constituents. So it was last Saturday, when representatives from the water department, the South Patrol police department, the 311 Action Center, the codes department, public works, street repairs, parks and recreation, and the Public Improvement Advisory Committee (PIAC) came to the Trailside Center from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. to meet with citizens face-to-face and listen to their problems.
“You aren’t just emailing someone or calling someone, you can actually have face-to-face contact and have the time to fully explain the problem,” said Sharp of the event. “We think it will really facilitate the city addressing problems and solving them more effectively, and quicker.”
Each department was split up at their own tables, with chairs opposite the department representatives for citizens to sit and explain their respective issues. With dozens of city residents crisscrossing the room, moving from table to table, the scene more closely resembled a round of speed dating than a typical public meeting.
City staff enjoyed the opportunity to meet with the people.
“It’s great to come out and actually meet the people. It gives us a chance to actually have a conversation,” said Roosevelt Parks of the Parks and Recreation department. “Oftentimes, you just get a problem and then you have to work on it. When you get a chance to actually sit down with somebody, you can talk about some of the challenges and give them an understanding of what we’re facing.”
Andy Shively of the water department agreed that the event proved to be a strong benefit for all involved.
“It’s a great opportunity for the city and for water services. It’s a great chance to interact with our customers,” said Shively. “We really enjoy these opportunities to get out and interact with the residents and give them a chance to talk to a live person. I think everyone is pleased so far, and I’m sure it’s going to be a success.”
Chris Korth of the Kansas City Alliance organized the event, and he was pleased with the amount of interest from both the citizens and city staff. Everyone at the Trailside Center had volunteered their time, and he felt the effort was well spent. Korth said that his group will keep working to ensure that South Kansas City residents remain properly represented moving forward.
“We’re concerned about doing many things for South Kansas City to make it a better place to work, to live, and to play,” said Korth.