By Mary Wilson
The City of Kansas City is seeking public input in helping shape the future of the Hickman Mills area. A public meeting will be held regarding the Hickman Mills Area Plan on Thursday, January 16, at 5:30 p.m., at the Kansas City South Patrol Division Station, 9701 Marion Park Drive.
The previous Hickman Mills Area Plan was adopted by the City of Kansas City back in 2007, and includes the area generally bound by 87th Street on the north, I-49 on the west, Grandview city limits on the south, and Raytown Road on the east. At the meeting, community members can expect an overview of the planning process, proposed recommendations of the upcoming plan, and next steps for adoption and implementation. Those interested will have an opportunity to hear the ideas and provide input to city staff to be included in the final document.
City Planner Brian Jackson, who focuses on long range planning and preservation, said that the goal of the public meetings is to provide a comprehensive framework to guide public decisions on land use, housing, public improvements, community development and city services. Area plans, like the one in Hickman Mills, recommend strategies to help realize a community’s long-term vision.
During the planning process, Hickman Mills and South Kansas City lost a longtime community advocate, Lou Austin. Always a visionary and forward thinker, Austin never hesitated to make personal commitments to the things he believed in, whether that meant funding development studies for his properties or donating land to be used as a park and educational opportunity. Austin’s dedication to the bettering of his community was an inspiration to all who had the pleasure of meeting him, and because of this, Jackson said, the Hickman Mills Area Plan is dedicated to his legacy.
“Lou has always been a tireless advocate for South Kansas City, and especially the Hickman Mills community that he lived in,” said Jackson. “His contributions can be seen across the planning area in the form of off-street trails, historical markers, and public spaces. It is difficult to think of a community group or organization that he did not impact. After learning of his passing, it seemed like an obvious action to dedicate the upcoming plan in his memory."
In 2007, Kansas City established 18 area plan geographies. The previous Hickman Mills Area Plan was the first area plan to be completed of the original 18. Prior to 2007, the city was comprised of 46 separate areas, with three in the current boundaries of Hickman Mills. Since 2007, Kanas City has created area plans for all 18 geographies and recently has begun to update those plans in communities that were among the first to go through the planning process. Martin City and Greater Downtown have also had plans updated or are currently in the planning process.
According to Jackson, the current planning effort in Hickman Mills is focused on ensuring that the document reflects the current conditions while communicating a long-term community vision. It will update community concerns, form development guidelines, provide future land use recommendations, and establish priorities for capital improvements. The updated Hickman Mills Area Plan will also serve as the reference point for community members and city staff to evaluate future development projects.
Since March of this year, city staff has been conducting various outreach efforts to gather input on the goals and priorities for the plan. From those discussions, Jackson said that a few items were identified as crucial community priorities. Those priorities include:
• Preventing commercial expansion into single family neighborhoods.
• The renovation or redevelopment of aging and underperforming commercial centers.
• Prioritizing sidewalk construction around schools, transit stops, and areas of highest need.
• Improving access for all modes of travel throughout Hickman Mills.
• Continued buildout of the trails system and promotion of the trail history in Hickman Mills.
• Improved code enforcement to improve neighborhood livability.
The draft version of the Hickman Mills Area Plan is available for review on the city’s website at kcmo.gov, under the City Planning and Development page. Members of the community are encouraged to contact city staff with any feedback or questions related to the document. Final adoption by the City Council is expected in early 2020.