Hickman Mills Is About To Get Screwed (Again)

Over 10 years ago, when the Hickman Mills Area Plan was first developed, the western boundary only went to 71 Highway; effectively cutting Hickman Mills in two and putting a good portion of it in what would become the Red Bridge Area Plan. Southern Communities Coalition lobbied for the boundary to be moved to Blue River, but it never happened because the City refused to pay the consultants any extra money for consulting on a larger area.

Moving forward, as the Red Bridge Area Plan was being developed a few years ago, Mariann Tow, a former co-chair of the Coalition, said the boundary needed to be changed to Blue River before adopting the plan; but once again the City moved forward with their own preconceived ideas and left the boundary at 71 Highway. Now they’re even trying to say no one spoke up at the Red Bridge Area Plan meetings.

The City has completed area plans for all of Kansas City and is now in the process of reviewing and updating them beginning with Hickman Mills. The boundary issue was brought up at the first steering committee meeting and the planners said there would be time during the process to discuss it. Of course it hasn’t been discussed at any meetings and they’re even trying to say they didn’t know anyone wanted it changed, even though the Coalition and Center Planning sent letters in support. Knowing nothing seems to be one of their arguments for not doing anything. The other is that it would cause the planning department additional work. They’re all a bunch of bureaucrats without any sense of humanity.

While I said the City is “updating” the plans, that’s actually a City term. What it means in real terms is that they’re scrapping the first one and simply using the new one. There will be no looking at the first plan to see what needs to be saved. Of course the planners, who are supposed to be guiding the process, say the community can keep whatever it wants as long as it makes the suggestions. Guess guidance only goes so far.

Of course all this could just be how they’re handling Hickman Mills. The City has made no bones about the fact that all plans aren’t alike. That’s an understatement. Some of the more well to do areas have much more detailed plans about what they think their area should look like, so they must get a bit more detailed guidance.

Then there’s also the issue of PIAC funds which the planning department raids when they don’t have the money to do some of the things they’d like; surveys for instance. Friends in Red Bridge tell me there were surveys of community members and of business people. They even did a water analysis (which seems a bit scary) and who knows what else. Anyway, that’s PIAC money that some actual community person/group didn’t get for their much needed project.

Needless to say, no PIAC funds were used for Hickman Mills. The planners come in for their two hour meeting and they leave. Nothing extra for us.

Then there’s the issue of their, let’s say, misstatements. Their not knowing anyone wanting the boundary change is just one example of many. They also try repeatedly to say they don’t use school district boundaries when they were told it was a community boundary from the beginning. Then there’s the issue of any change having a negative effect but not saying what that would be. It just goes on and on.

They can’t seem, or don’t want, to realize ALL of Hickman Mills is a historical community that doesn’t end at 71 Highway. They also can’t seem to comprehend that Hickman Mills is a unique situation because the school district boundary and the community boundary are very closely aligned.

All they see are lines on paper. They can’t understand that they’re dealing with real people.

While Hickman Mills is currently being screwed, all of Kansas City is being screwed by the raids on PIAC funds. Let’s all applaud City Hall and especially the Planning Department.