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Letter to the Editor from Swope Ridge Neighborhood Association

Dear City Leaders,

 We are the residents of the Swope Ridge Neighborhood and we have a serious concern.  Twenty plus years ago the Winchester TIF was established.  Swope Ridge Neighborhood was the “but for” argument to allow the Winchester development to happen, granting TIF concessions that were given to the developer. The original plan and the subsequent 5 amendments provided for remediation of the residential portion of the TIF plan and promised basic infrastructural improvements that would not otherwise have been made.  To provide a little neighborhood background, Swope Ridge neighborhood is a working class area with a hodge podge group of homes.  Some homes here were built in the 60’s and 70’s and are still inhabited by the original owners.  They have raised their children and are now retired.  Some homes were moved into this area when 71 highway was being built.  Instead of just tearing down the homes, they were given new lives and moved to this quiet little area by the park so there would homes for other families to raise their children.  It is here that this once quiet little community has had to fight for their homes, battling not only developers but politicians also.  In fact, a group of the homeowners were so concerned that the developers would try to take their homes that a legal injunction was issued and made a part of the TIF agreement not to demolish the homes. To this day, we have no sewers, sidewalks, storm sewers, and the roads in and out of this development are subpar.  

 Last summer the TIF commission hired a consultant to do a study of this area and found that we were still considered blighted.  This study was used to attempt to divert funding from our neighborhood to the soccer village.  Swope Ridge Neighborhood is still in need of infrastructural improvements and we are still blighted after 20 years.  

 Because of the development, over 3,000 parking spaces have been added in this small residential area creating undeniable wear and tear and traffic on the neighborhood.    We started our conversations with the TIF Commission and City staff with an attitude toward cooperation and compromise.  We were asked to consider septic tank replacement instead of a sewer system.  We have been asked to participate in an invasive inspection/income dependent home repair program.  We have come to the conclusion that the needs and priorities of the neighborhood are not a priority concern.  We are no longer interested in a compromise that does not meet our infrastructure needs. 

 In 1991 this neighborhood was promised in the TIF plan the following improvements to the infrastructure of our neighborhood in exchange for our allowing the commercial development to come in and basically overrun our quiet little country neighborhood.  Following is the list of items promised in the original TIF agreement: as approved and adopted by City ordinance, and included in the last five amendments, called for the remediation of blight in the following specific instances, for example:

 1.     Exhibit 7-A Infrastructure-Roadway Improvements

    1. a.     Bennington Ave. (north-south) Collector Street Standards, 60’ R/W, 5’ sidewalks both sides, 36’ B-B street width, CG-1 Curb and Gutter both sides, 2” asphalt surface course, 7” asphalt base course
    2. b.     64th Street (east-west) Residential Street Standards, 50’ R/W, 4’ Sidewalks both sides, 28 B-B Street width, CG-2 Curb & Gutter both sides, 2” asphalt surface course, 6” asphalt base course
    3. c.      Cul de Sac (north-south off of 64th Street) Residential Street standards, 50’ R/W, 4’ sidewalks both sides, 28’ b-B street width, CG-2 curb & gutter both sides, 2” asphalt surface course, 6” asphalt base course
    4. d.     66th Street (east-west) Residential street standards, 50’ R/W, 4’ sidewalks both sides, 28’ b-b street width, CG-2 curb & gutter both sides, 2” asphalt surface course,  6” asphalt base course.
    5. e.     Driveways
    6. f.      Roadway grading
  1. 2.     Storm sewer improvements
    1. a.     Enclosed storm sewer systems
  2. 3.     Sanitary Sewer Improvements
    1. a.     6” sewer
    2. b.     Bore under KCS RR Tracks
    3. c.      8” sewer
  3. 4.     Water Main Improvements
    1. a.     Adjust house service line connections
    2. b.     8” water main
  4. 5.     Residential Remediation Program Exhibit 7-B
    1. a.     The funds shall be made available to reimburse the greater of either the cost of sanitary sewer hookup or up to $3,00 which may also be used to reimburse the cost of improvements to the exterior of the residential structure.

     More than 20 years later we are here to defend our neighborhood.  While we agree that commercial development is necessary to grow the economy, neighborhoods are also necessary to grow humanity.  Promises made in the form of a TIF agreement create a contract that should be kept.  Nothing has been delivered for the residents since this agreement went into effect in 1991.   We feel that the original promises made should be honored.  We should not have had to argue and defend the very thing that made our area a TIF qualifier.  With the exception of the TIF promises, we have never been the beneficiary of any improvements by the 5th District representatives.  We still have never had anyone show us the rational basis for why our promised improvements cannot be provided. 

      There is sufficient funding at this time to fund the original TIF agreement as written.  We were offered a diminished amount that is not acceptable with the conditions placed on it for implementation.  We are now asking that our City leaders honor the commitments originally made to this residential area and do the right thing.

 Respectfully,

Swope Ridge Neighborhood Association

Patricia Losiewicz-President

Kansas City, MO 64133       

SwopeRidgeNeighborhoodAssoc@kc.rr.com

www.swoperidgena.org

* note the phone number and address have been removed by RaytownOnline.com as a matter of policy.

The letter to the editor also included supporting documentation. You can read it by clicking HERE for the original TIF plan and clicking HERE to read the latest version of it. This is important as there is a difference in the infrastructure improvements between what was promised and what is proposed now.

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