Parkville downtown plan issue still smoldering

The Parkville Downtown Master Plan has morphed into more of a “downtown vision.” After weeks of discussion and a meeting between the City’s Board of Aldermen and Planning Commission that was cancelled due to snow, the Board has decided last week to move forward with a shift in thinking as to how the once-plan would be used. Assistant City Administrator Sean Ackerson outlined the history of the document, which started with a Mid America Regional Council grant and a series of public meetings last fall. “At the beginning of this we called it a master plan, but maybe we should consider it as more of a vision,” Ackerson said. This was a concept embraced by Aldermen Chris Fisher and other aldermen troubled by elements of the plan. Ackerson said concerns were expressed that there was a lack of participation in the plan, that no funding mechanisms had been identified, include that the plan does not include a recommendation about train noise, that it is simply a more polished version of an older plan that already didn’t work and that the plan expressed opposition to multi-family development. Fisher said it was shortsighted to dictate that people could not consider opportunities to develop higher-density housing in the downtown area in five to 10 years. He said that while the City gave people opportunities to participate in the planning process, perhaps they didn’t hear from everyone who could have a stake in the future of the City. “What we heard from were people who already own property downtown,” Fisher said. “And we’ve heard from these same people for years and years and years.” He wants to hear from potential developers, who could be the ones who would bring growth to the area in the future. “Look at what’s going on with Chapel Ridge,” Alderman Marc Sportsman said. “One of the things those in opposition are aggressively going after is the decision by the Platte County Commission that was seen as a change to the current master plan without a vote.” Ackerson said that was a point well made. Though governments must have some planning tools and guides at their disposal, by having those tools they ran the risk of eventually running afoul of their own guidelines. “It’s sort of a situation where you’re damned if you do, damned if you don’t,” Ackerson said. One area of agreement amongst the aldermen was that they were generally tired of the issue and ready to move forward, with the understanding the City would not be bound by any ideas brought forth in the vision. “I don’t think any master plan should be called a plan – they’re all just a vision,” said Mayor Jim Brooks. City Administrator Lauren Palmer updated the Board on another long-running matter involving the Parkville Vikings Football Club. The Vikings is a youth sports organization offering football and cheer programs. For many years, the Vikings have held practices and games on the city property known as Vikings Field south of the intersection of River Road, Union Chapel and FF Highway.