Thursday, October 23, 2014

Downtown Martin City Phase 1 Facelift Complete

By Mary Wilson

Damon Hodges, project manager with Kansas City Public Works, welcomed guests to the completion of the first phase of Martin City’s 135th Street improvements on Thursday, October 16. The $9.1 million overhaul of the street has been divided into three sections. Phase one included 135th Street from Holmes to Oak; phase two will include from Oak to Wornall, with an anticipated start date by summer of 2015; and phase three includes Wornall to 150 Hwy.

“It’s been a long time coming,” said 6th District Councilman John Sharp. “Martin City is really a hidden treasure for Kansas City, and hopefully it won’t be so hidden now that we’re finally putting in the infrastructure that is long overdue. With so many great restaurants and shops, this is an entertainment mecca.”

Sharp added that Martin City is an area of Kansas City that receives a high percentage of visitors from Johnson County. Phase one was completed with a strong partnership with the county’s significant financial support, as well as the Martin City Community Improvement District.

“When you want to attract an upscale customer, it has to look nice,” said Sharp. “Now it does. We’re going to be working very hard to get the rest of the money we need for phase two.”

6th District Councilman Scott Taylor added that the Kansas City Public Improvements Advisory Committee (PIAC) unanimously contributed $2.3 million to the project.

“We all feel strongly in supporting Martin City,” said Taylor. “You can see the impact it already has. It’s much more family-friendly with sidewalks, and our hope is that this will attract new business and make this more of a destination.”

Taylor also said that Martin City is a revenue-driver for the city of Kansas City, bringing in new funds from neighboring cities. Taylor added that as chair of the city’s first ever Small Business Committee, he will continue doing whatever he can to make it easier for businesses to open in Martin City. The city has kept that commitment throughout the construction, passing an ordinance for a microbrewery in Martin City.

“We’ve set up a microloan program, a small business loan program, through the city in partnership with the Small Business Administration,” said Taylor. “You can receive up to a $50,000 loan to get a business started and help fill up some of these empty spaces so that we have full capacity in Martin City.”

Parties interested in the city’s microloan program can contact the Kansas City BizCare office at 816-513-2492, or by visiting the city’s website at www.kcmo.gov.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Where’s the Community?

A Column by Mary Wilson, Editor

 
For the third year in a row, I walked along Main Street with kids from Grandview as they celebrated one of the rites of their high school careers: Homecoming. This year, with their faces painted and their letter jackets on, the students at Grandview High School took to the community to garner support and encouragement from businesses and residents.

That support was incredibly lacking. As I geared up with my camera, finding the best spot to photograph the action, I noticed something that really hit a nerve. Before Main Street was closed off to traffic for the parade, several of the businesses surrounding mine, in the heart of Main Street, closed up shop and the owners and employees drove away. There were only a handful of families with small children who made the trek to show their support and maybe get a piece of candy or two.

The rest of Main Street was a ghost town. Whether it was a lack of the school district publicizing the event, or if people were simply too busy on their Friday afternoon, the Grandview community was noticeably absent.

The Grandview School District most recently scored, for the second year in a row, Accredited with Distinction on the Missouri School Improvement Plan grading system. Grandview High School has students with amazing abilities, both academically and athletically. Teenagers thrive on positive reinforcement, and not just from their teachers and parents.

Not too many years ago, when I was in high school, I remember Main Street was full of life on Homecoming Friday. Businesses would hang banners in support of Grandview High School, and the community would come together to build floats, hand out candy, and simply be present. Now it’s as if doors are closed, blinds are shut, and we go about our business as if nothing’s happening.

What changed in the last few years? Where’s the community when our kids are literally begging for attention?