Kansas City delays vote on Park Hill application

The cause of The Last Forest group working to preserve land near the Line Creek Trail has been bolstered by the recent actions of the Kansas City Plan Commission.

On Tuesday, Oct. 16, the Plan Commission delayed a decision on a special use permit requested by the Park Hill School District for construction of the LEAD Innovation Center. Members of the preservation group attended the meeting, with organizer Julie Stutterheim addressing the commission, later telling The Citizen it was a positive experience.

“They identified key areas where the Park Hill School District had failed to adequately engage its community, saying that the school district was talking to their constituents (i.e., parents of students), not their community members,” Stutterheim said. 

The commission granted a continuance to give the district a chance to engage the community, she said.

“They also encouraged Park Hill to really listen to our concerns and give us an opportunity to give feedback,” Stutterheim said. “It seems they regarded Park Hill’s previous community meetings as not adequate for understanding community concerns. They also encouraged the inclusion of some type of conservation plan, which is what we’ve been fighting for as well.”

As of press time, no meeting between the district and interested stakeholders has been announced. Park Hill’s board of education will hold its next regular meeting at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 25. The next meeting of the Kansas City Plan Commission is at 9 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 6 at Kansas City’s city hall, with Last Forest group members expected to attend.

For about a year, the group has worked to raise awareness of district plans to build on the 272-acre property, located at Northwest 68th Street and Waukomis Drive. Hopewell Elementary School is currently under construction there, with the district hoping to start work soon on its high school program — LEAD. If enrollment continues to grow, LEAD could be expanded into a third district high school.