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Fourth Quarter 2016
This newsletter provides a quarterly look at successful programs and activities in our First Suburbs communities that have potential to be adapted by others. To suggest a success story for a future issue contact Georgia Nesselrode.
Four projects in First Suburbs earn recognition as
Each year, the Mid-America Regional Council hosts an event to honor Sustainable Success Stories, highlighting local projects and initiatives that help build a better understanding of how sustainable practices have the potential to transform our communities. This year, the Sustainable Success Stories competition emphasized exemplary green and complete street projects and initiatives in both urban and suburban contexts.
Four projects located within First Suburb communities are among the 2016 honorees. They will be recognized at the Sustainable Success Stories workshop on Thursday, Dec. 8, from 8:30-10:30 a.m., at the Kauffman Foundation Conference Center.
Grandview Gateway/Main Street Improvements
Grandview's Main Street Improvement Project is a four-phase effort that extends along Main Street from the West Frontage Road of Interstate 49 to the Kansas City Southern Railroad just east of 8th Street.
Grandview is a minority-majority community committed to environmental justice. Many of its citizens are dependent on walking and public transportation services, so creating a walkable community with retail and services within walking distance of residential neighborhoods is a primary need for the city. Main Street improvements have emphasized walkability and the right-sizing of streets, using complete street and road diet concepts. The improvements themselves have emphasized low-impact construction, including landscape designs that use native plant species to handle stormwater sensibly. Narrow and reduced lanes, along with wide, comfortable sidewalks have created a new street that is pedestrian-friendly and environmentally responsible.
These Main Street improvements are part of more than $375 million in major investment in the city in the past three years, including revitalization of two shopping centers built in the 1950s and the development of the Gateway Sports Village. These investments have ultimately led to more jobs and nearby services for the people of Grandview. The number of businesses has increased, sales tax receipts are up, and for the first time since 1980, the population of the city as a whole has started to rise. As recently as 2008, FORBES Magazine declared Grandview one of the 10 fastest dying communities in the United States, making these achievements especially astounding.
Healthy Community Corridor
Working with various partner organizations, the Parks and Recreation Department of Wyandotte County is adopting a "Safe Routes to Parks" approach, with an eye toward improving public health. This process involves increasing public awareness of parks, as well as making improvements to them. It will allow for a triple-bottom-line approach to restoring community parks in the most populated part of the county (86,000 people, over half of the total Wyandotte County population according to the 2010 U.S. Census).
The Healthy Community Corridor initiative invites both individuals and community organizations to use their local, neighborhood resources for park improvements. By leveraging the collective capacity of partners, the project has been a catalyst for communities to take ownership and restore parks in Wyandotte County. The unprecedented participation of community partners working in tandem with the Parks and Recreation Department, has helped create a path to sustainable, community-led park investments. Also, community leaders can now apply directly to the Parks Foundation for funding to support built-environment improvements that support healthy parks. By increasing the quality of safe and accessible areas to walk, is the county anticipates that more citizens will enjoy their parks and improve their health at the same time.
Johnson Drive Streetscape
The Johnson Drive reconstruction project transformed an eight-block section of Johnson Drive, a main arterial roadway, from Lamar to Nall Avenues in the historic downtown district of Mission, Kansas.
The project included stormwater upgrades, new sidewalks in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, streetlights, seat walls, landscape beds, trash and recycling receptacles, street signage, and three new pedestrian beacons to aid in crossing at intersections.
Economic vitality in the area has improved with new businesses opening, property owners improving their spaces. The project's design increased the total pervious area by expanding landscaping and planting more trees. The streetscape project has benefitted the community in other ways as well, including increased communication and relationship-building among stakeholders, resulting in a sense of momentum that is leading to real results; the revival of the Mission business association; and the establishment of a farmers' market.
KC Road Diet Initiative
Adopted in 2014, the Kansas City Road Diet Initiative began with an analysis of undivided four-lane streets. National studies indicate that road diets, such as the one initiated by the Public Works department on Gregory Boulevard and northeast Barry Road, provide many benefits, including improved safety for all roadway users. These resurfaced streets have been reconfigured into three-lane undivided roads, with two through lanes and a center two-way, left-turn lane.
The Road Diet Initiative focuses on adding bike facilities to roadways and increasing safety along busy corridors. Completed in summer 2016, the road diet improvements included 12-foot lanes, a 6-foot bike lanes, and 4-foot buffers. These road diets were completed during the normal street resurfacing cycle, which eliminated the need to spend additional funds to complete the projects.