Independence Mayor Eileen Weir and her team can point to a variety of recent successes.
Notably, officials said earlier this year that the median household income in the city has surpassed $50,000.
“That is a major goal that has been reached,” said Ron Finke, a business owner (and regular columnist on this page). He mentioned that last week at the mayor’s monthly meeting of civic leaders.
Weir listed several others, including improved efforts against blight, more sidewalks on major streets, the voters’ permanent extension of the sales tax for streets, and even the brand new Independence Uptown Market, which is expected to have a variety of events bringing people and dollars to the Square.
So now what? The mayor suggested a focus on more home ownership, saying the city has a need for new housing to meet market needs.
“There’s a lot of different housing needs that we have in Independence,” she said.
It’s no doubt true that increasing the rate of home ownership would have any number of benefits – and work is underway in places.
“We are seeing housing being worked on, piece by piece, block by block,” said Jennifer Manuleleua, referring to Fairmount.
Other efforts are in the works:
• Both the Square and Englewood are looking at community improvement districts. Those rely on an added sales tax for specific local improvements. For instance, the Noland Road CID has paid to replace some unattractive pole signs with monument signs and will pay for enhancements to the I-70 bridge next year.
“Infrastructure development around the Square is critical to moving the district forward,” said Community Services League President and CEO Doug Cowan.
Those efforts are seen an improving “connectivity” – you’re going to hear that word a lot – between the Square, the National Frontier Trails Museum, Englewood, the Truman Library and elsewhere.
• The city has bought the old, empty Comprehensive Mental Health Services building in Englewood and officials “are exploring some redevelopment opportunities,” the mayor said. That could be a shot in the arm for Englewood.
The Great Place to Work Institute has named The Fountains at Greenbriar to its national list of the 50 Best Places to Work in Aging Services. The institute compiles the best-places-to-work lists seen in Fortune magazine. The Fountains at Greenbriar, 2100 S. Swope Drive, Independence, is focused on independent living for those 55 and older and is one of about 50 facilities owned by Watermark Retirement Communities. … Hy-Vee is holding a job fair this Thursday. It’s from noon to 6 p.m. at the Stoney Creek Hotel and Conference Center, 18011 Bass Pro Drive, Independence.
Amtrak has committed to maintaining the Southwest Chief at least through Sept. 30, 2019, according to members of Congress who have intervened. That train connects Chicago and Los Angeles. Kansas City is the busiest of the dozens of stops along the way, as measured by passengers getting on and off. You might see the Chief passing through Sugar Creek and northern Independence or crossing the Missouri River at Sibley. Amtrak has floated a poorly conceived plan to replace more than 500 miles of that trip with bus service from western Kansas to Albuquerque, a move sure to reduce ridership and probably hasten the end of the Southwest Chief and other long-haul routes. Amtrak now is granting a reprieve for the rest of the current federal fiscal year – but this is worth keeping an eye on.
Jeff Fox is The Examiner’s editor. Reach him at 816-350-6365 or firstname.lastname@example.org. He posts about business and other things on Twitter at @FoxEJC.