Independence City Council At-Large Member Lucy Young wants to clarify what she believes are several misconceptions about the recently announced business park in eastern Independence.

Independence City Council At-Large Member Lucy Young wants to clarify what she believes are several misconceptions about the recently announced business park in eastern Independence.

Young spoke at Monday night’s City Council meeting regarding rumors surrounding the planned 363-acre business park at Missouri 7 and Missouri 78 announced last month. The public-private partnership project involves the city of Independence; the Community of Christ as the landowner; Independence Economic Development; and project developer Clayco Inc.

Young recognized the jobs that existed decades ago near the former Armco Steel plant east of Interstate 435 between U.S. 24 and Truman Road.  

“Those jobs aren’t coming back,” Young said. “What we need to do – here in Independence – is create jobs for Independence residents.”

According to Young, no property for such job creation exists near I-435 where ndependence borders Kansas City. Instead, the development of new roadways through the Little Blue Valley “will create new opportunities for citizens here in Independence, as well as people who are in other areas,” Young said.   

Young also said the future business park’s funding is a separate issue from the Independence Events Center,  which opened in November 2009. While the city owns the Independence Events Center and Global Entertainment Corporation serves as its manager, the future business park is a project on behalf of the property owners and the developer.

“Yes, we the city of Independence do encourage that through the (Independence Council for Economic Development) and our staff,” Young said, “but that is because you, the citizens, have asked us to please bring real jobs – not just retail – but manufacturing, living-wage jobs. That’s what we are trying to do.”

And yes, Young said, the Arcadia Land Company’s development is ongoing. According to City Manager Robert Heacock, one section of housing development of Harmony in the Little Blue River Valley is expected to break ground in spring 2011.

Heacock said he also has read concerns saying, “Why is the city creating a TIF district out there?”

“There has been no application for a tax increment financing district, no contemplation of that at this point and time,” Heacock said. “They (development officials) are very much interested in that area. They see the potential of that over the long term. They have not come forward with any particular request from the city.”

The city has examined grant funding opportunities where it might make roadway improvements near the future business park, Heacock said, in addition to the consideration of utility extensions “that would be necessary anyway as that area develops, and we would expect it to do so.”

If the developer should consider a TIF application in the future, Heacock said he would like residents to remember the “but for” premise that follows tax increment financing. He also reminded residents that representatives from a variety of taxing jurisdictions comprise the city’s Tax Increment Financing Commission and that all TIF Commission meetings are televised.

Heacock said city officials are working with businesses in actively looking for available sites in western Independence.

“Those don’t always pan out, but we are working on those. We are mindful of what properties are available throughout our community,” Heacock said.

Young encouraged residents to e-mail either her or another City Council member or call the mayor’s or City Council’s office at City Hall if they have questions about the proposed business park.

 “If the citizens have a question, just ask us outright what we’re doing because we’ll be glad to tell you,” Young said.

More info

CITY COUNCIL OFFICE: 816-325-7022.

MAYOR’S OFFICE: 816-325-7030.

ONLINE: Visit www.ci.independence.mo.us/citycouncil/ for more information on how to contact your Independence City Council member and which council district you live in.