Humor me for probably too many paragraphs. I want to take a look into the future for Platte City and see some of the major changes that could occur in the next 10 years or maybe slightly longer. This city’s been growing for a long time, and there seems to be a breaking point coming for the old vs. the new.
Ever since I heard about the closing of the Platte City Pool, which shut down for good on Sunday (read more starting on the front page of this week’s issue), I started to think about a potential domino effect for other facilities. Maybe domino effect isn’t the right word because I’m not sure there will be a particular order for how these items I’m about to discuss will occur.
Heck, there’s a chance none of it happens, but these are my theories based on the past year. This could be fun.
First, the pool closed down because already functionally obsolete, the 40-year-old structure was simply failing and too expensive to refurbish. This decision was made with the taxpayers’ dollars in mind but also came before a replacement plan could be hatched.
The pool is going away, and there’s not going to be a replacement for while. How long, remains to be seen.
So what can the city do with the area?
My guess would be the shelter and playground are saved (but maybe not) and the rest of the area becomes a nice, beautiful … parking lot. Yes. Thrilling I know.
But this could be good.
For example, that new parking lot would sit very close to the Platte County Courthouse and Platte County Government Complex. Those parking spots could be utilized by the workers and visitors which could — stay with me — free up spaces along Main Street.
And this benefits you how?
Well, it sure couldn’t hurt the effort to spur more economic activity downtown. We all know the struggles that restaurants and retail have to attract business to that area. Part of the problem? Nowhere for people to park between 8 and 5 and people bypass for other more strip-mallish areas.
So more business, equals more tax dollars and combine that with other economic development projects and maybe the city sees some growth in revenue.
That’s good because the government facilities are pretty bad. Platte City City Hall is fine, but the police department, public works and municipal court have issues, including a sprawl issue. Offices are divided across four different buildings, and the police have re-upped for more time in a small space catty-cornered from city hall, and they only moved there in the first place because its previous office space was basically condemned.
Yet the Platte County Civic Center continues to function in some capacity with municipal court, the Platte City Parks and Recreation Department and event space still housed in the very old building. I’ll spare you the numbers and minutiae, but the situation isn’t good.
A consulting firm has already suggested more consolidation, but that will take dollars. Those dollars will need to be found no matter what, and I’d guess that a facility, possibly multi stories could happen. I’d also guess that it would be located just a little bit further east on Main Street on the site of that vacant building on space no one is using from what I can tell, except to store a ramshackle RV.
So that takes us back to the Civic Center, which might just need to come down even though there will be a segment of the population holding onto sentiment that will hate to see the old high school go.
So the options would be to rebuild some sort of event space there to help the city with certain civic activities. Maybe a gym for basketball and an area to continue hosting dances for whatever. Or maybe that goes away and the building sits empty when it’s ultimately condemned.
Again, I’m just speculating and guessing here.
But that hypothetical civic center space could be attractive with a sidewalk across the street that leads right to a brand new aquatic facility. I’ll shy away from pool because pool in the sense of people like me or older doesn’t exist much anymore.
No. Now we build water parks with water cannons, large slides, lazy rivers, etc.
If the city is going to spend the money (probably more than $2 million), it better get its money worth. A good majority of citizens favor having a pool at some point. A sizable minority of those people want the pool but don’t want to pay for it. There are a lot of ways a project like that could be funded, but I’d guess the word tax — cringe — would be prominent among those.
Clearly, a decision on how to proceed with that would be years away, probably at least two from the moment a plan is adopted.
Oh yeah. And where am I putting this pool? As I’ve mentioned in this very space before: the Platte County School District owns some land with a public walkway toward the civic center. That land houses Rising Star Elementary, which will be closing down after this school year.
I’d guess the district and the city, known to work on many projects together, might be able to come to an agreement, maybe even a donation arrangement, for that land. I know for a fact the city would be willing to listen to that type of discussion.
Again, this is all speculation, but all scenarios that wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibilities. Maybe a few happen, maybe all of them.
Regardless, a new look for Platte City is coming. It’s just a matter of what and when at this point.
Ross Martin is publisher of The Citizen. He may be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @Citizen_Ross.