Public hearing set Thursday on redevelopment district at Rock Island Bridge

A public hearing on the Riverfront Redevelopment District, which includes the Rock Island Bridge redevelopment, will be held at 7 p.m. Thursday, May 13, at the Unified Government Commission meeting. The development agreement received preliminary approval March 29. The bridge over the Kansas River is proposed to be a tourist destination and entertainment site, with dining, hiking trails and biking trails. An architect’s drawing by Gould Evans shows the bridge. (Illustration from March 29 UG Committee agenda)

The Unified Government Commission will meet at 7 p.m. Thursday, May 13, for several items, including a public hearing on the Riverfront Redevelopment District.

After the public hearing on the district, the commission will decide if it will adopt the Kaw River Bridge Development Agreement, the bridge lease agreement and management agreement. Also, it will be asked to adopt an ordinance adding property to and amending the existing Riverfront Redevelopment District.

The proposed $4.975 million development on the bridge would include trails, restaurants, coffee shop and bar, food area, retail, public gathering spaces and an event venue, among other features. The developer is Michael Zeller and Flying Truss LLC.

The development and lease agreements, contained in the May 13 UG agenda, call for the historic Rock Island Bridge to be turned over to the Unified Government for $1. The bridge over the Kaw River is near the stockyards area and HyVee Arena.

A previous development agreement with Kansas City, Missouri, outlines a public and private partnership to develop walking and bicycle trail systems, and making improvements on the bridge for 25 years. The bridge, constructed in 1905, is currently owned by the city of Kansas City, Missouri.

The agreement calls for the UG to provide $2 million for the project from the UG’s Convention and Tourism Fund. Those funds come from tourist dollars spent in Wyandotte County. Community improvement districts with a sales tax are proposed. A tax increment financing (TIF) district has been created for the area. Industrial revenue bond financing is proposed.

The development agreement received preliminary approval at a UG Committee meeting March 29. At that meeting, economic development officials said the bridge is seen as a catalyst for future growth in the area. More details about the agreement are at http://www.wyandottedaily.com/development-agreement-for-bridge-entertainment-over-the-kaw-river-receives-preliminary-ug-approval/.

Also on the 7 p.m. agenda:
• Authorization to apply for two historic preservation grants from the Kansas State Historic Preservation Office. The focus of the requests will be a downtown historic district, a multiple listing of historic downtown churches and historic downtown buildings.
• Adopting the third amendment to the Downtown Campus Development agreement with Lanier United LLC, to extend the final date for closing to June 30, with an automatic extension to July 30.
• Termination of the 38th and Leavenworth Road redevelopment district, and tax increment financing with the district.
• Termination of the Mission Cliffs-Rainbow Park TIF.

Several Land Bank items are on the 7 p.m. agenda, including:

• Six single-family homes: 2829 S. 8th; 2815 S. 8th; 929 Freeman; 935 Freeman; 1203 Ann; and 5705 Tauromee.
• One 4-plex: 416 Cambridge.
• One garage: 1713 Troup.
• One commercial-residential: 5320 State Ave.

The UG Commission also will meet in a special session at 5 p.m. Thursday, May 13 for an update on the levees project, followed by a report on economic development incentives.

The public will not be able to attend the meetings in person, but the meetings will be on UGTV cable television, YouTube and on Zoom.

The 5 p.m. special session Zoom link will be at https://us02web.zoom.us/j/83675668213?pwd=S25acFhNeTUvWkx6R1ZZSFJ4cW9PZz09#success.

The passcode is 210725.

The webinar ID is 836 7566 8213

The phone number is 888-475-4499 (toll free) or 877-853-5257 (toll free).

The 7 p.m. UG Commission meeting will be on Zoom at https://us02web.zoom.us/j/83065774454?pwd=U1pVZ2N5TkpNcGhQdG5LdWhmNU5UZz09#success.
The passcode is 152094.

The webinar ID is 830 6577 4454.

Phone numbers are 888-475-4499 (toll free) or 877-853-5257 (toll free).

UG Commission quizzes police chief candidates

Unified Government commissioners each asked a question of the four candidates for police chief at the 5 p.m. UG Commission meeting April 15.

The meeting was part of the selection process for the Kansas City, Kansas, police chief candidates, UG Administrator Doug Bach explained. Bach is to make the selection of the police chief after receiving community and commission responses. An advisory committee is giving its opinions on the candidates. A community survey also was conducted on the qualities residents wanted to see in candidates.

Bach said the candidates will be interviewed more on Friday, and more background checks will be conducted. Bach said he would meet with commissioners one at a time to get their opinions, and he is expected to receive more opinions from an advisory committee. The expected hiring date is in May.

At the end of the meeting UG Commissioner Christian Ramirez requested another meeting so the UG commissioners could discuss the finalists and possibly present a unified commission recommendation to the administrator. Commissioner Ramirez said it was imperative, especially during a time of social and racial injustice, to see the governing body working together with the administration to find a chief that fits the community. Commissioner Mike Kane agreed.

Mayor David Alvey, however, said procedures for the selection have already been set, and the commissioners would talk to Bach individually to provide their opinions.

Commissioner Kane said that with some recent news stories about the police department, it would be important that the commission be involved more in the selection. Mayor Alvey, who is running for re-election, added he would take it under advisement, and if so, they might convene a special executive session.

The police chief selection process here has taken more than a year, and there were originally 19 applicants, according to a UG spokesman. The applicants were narrowed down to the final four.

Commissioner Harold Johnson asked the candidates what strategies they would use to increase the diversity of the police force in recruitment and in promotion.

Pamela Waldeck, the current deputy chief of police in Kansas City, Kansas, said the department started a year ago with minority officers assisting in the recruiting. They made a video with African American officers speaking directly to the African American community in trying to recruit more officers, she said. They also reached out to community organizations and went into neighborhoods to recruit, she added.

Waldeck, who has been with the police department since 1997, said she would like to implement a full-time recruiting staff, as those who are recruiting now are on temporary assignments. Two full-time recruiting officers could visit local high schools and colleges and have conversations with potential recruits, she said. They also could meet with church groups and organizations to build relationships, she added.

Vince Davenport, who was with the Kansas City, Kansas, Police Department 25 years before going to the Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance, where he is the associate deputy director, said he would start by bringing adequate diverse representation to the table and crafting a written strategic plan.

The chief needs to put out a call to serve countywide, even challenging people at different workplaces to consider changing careers, Davenport said. He also said it would be important to work together with young people as well as the Black police officers’ association and the Latino officers’ association in crafting the plan.

Karl Oakman, deputy chief of the Kansas City, Missouri, Police Department, where he has been a member for 29 years, said he worked with that department on recruiting around 20 years ago, creating an open testing concept. They made the recruiting process easy, and all the candidates had to do was show up at a classroom with their driver’s license and take a test, he said. When they passed the test, then they could work on getting the other necessary documents, he added. Oakman said this removed a hurdle early in the process, and they had some of the largest participation ever in a test. That year they had the largest minority participation in the academy, he added.

He also said they looked at the process to eliminate other hurdles. For example, some people cannot wait eight months to a year to get hired, so he looked at the process to find out how to reduce the time while maintaining the requirements to be an officer, Oakman said. He said they also successfully recruited police officers at historically Black colleges. Oakman also said he had an eight-point objective plan for KCK, including an innovative strategy to recruit and train a diverse work force.

Rich Austin, chief of police of Milton, Georgia, said diverse teams are stronger and police departments should be reflective of the communities they serve. A lot of agencies want to cast a wide net to get people in the door, but that’s not the best way to go about it, he said.

Austin said everyone in the police department should be a recruiter, on the lookout in their own community for people who could become community police officers, people they would want to work with and who have high integrity. While they would still need a centralized recruiting officer to go to job fairs and process applications, he believes the best strategy is for all officers to become recruiters.

Commissioner Ramirez’s question was about how the chief would handle immigration, and Commissioner Kane asked about how they work with the union. To hear more of the candidates’ responses on the questions, see the meeting video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jUlF684F6HI.

Some development projects on tonight’s UG committee agenda

Two Unified Government committees are scheduled to meet, starting at 5 p.m. Monday, March 29.

On the agenda for the Economic Development and Finance Committee, which starts after the Neighborhood and Community Development Committee, is a resolution authorizing the Board of Public Utilities to enter into a loan agreement with the Kansas Department of Health and Environment of up to $25 million for several projects.

Also on the EDF agenda is a resolution adopting the Kaw River Bridge Cooperative and Development agreement, bridge lease agreement and public use condo unit license and management agreement for the historic Rock Island Railroad Bridge near the historic stockyards district.

The EDF committee also is expected to set a public hearing date of May 13 for the Riverfront Redevelopment District.

Also on the EDF agenda is a resolution to adopt Economic Development Department policies on TIF and industrial revenue bonds.

On the agenda for the Neighborhood and Community Development Committee, which begins at 5 p.m., are a number of Land Bank applications.

There are 26 single-family homes on the Land Bank applications, through CHWC, Rivers Edge East subdivision.

Listed for applications were:
Phase 1, six homes, 2021, at 3036 N. Getty St., 3030 N. Getty St., 3022 N. Getty St., 3016 N. Getty St., 1726 Roswell Ave. and 2940 N. Getty St.
Phase 2, six homes, 2022, all at 2938 N. Getty St. (north of 18th and Quindaro).
Phase 3, six homes, 2023, 3027 N. Getty St., 3021 N. Getty St., 3033 N. Getty t., 3039 N. Getty St., 3045 N. Getty St., 3031 N. 18th St.
Kristi Smith High, one home, 202 Stewart Ave., 204 Stewart Ave., 206 Stewart Ave.
Karan Gupta, two homes, 844 Tauromee Ave., 848 Tauromee Ave.
Cinnamon Campbell, two homes, 914 Oakland Ave., 916 Oakland Ave.
Maribel Cortez, one home, 3517 N. 47th St.
Habitat for Humanity, 3008 N. 30th St. Application was delayed two months because of its distance from the Quindaro townsite.
New construction, home addition:
Victor Alfonso Laozano, 3052 N. 31st St. , with staff advisory.
New construction, row houses, requested 3 Land Bank lots:
Luminary Transformations, 8 units, 1026 Oakland Ave., 1030 Oakland Ave., 1038 Oakland Ave. Staff advisory.
New construction, commercial:
Oliver Tanner, open air food plaza, 3119 Strong Ave.

Land Bank property transfers:
Yard extension, Cassandra Bitterman, 627 Shawnee Road. Lot is unbuildable by Land Bank policy.

The meetings will be on Zoom, on YouTube and on UGTV cable television.