“You can’t clean up a neighborhood if the neighborhood is running wild,” proclaimed one Blue Summit community member, surrounded by other like-minded individuals looking to improve their home.
Blue Summit residents gathered inside the Inter County Fire Department for the second time Thursday, the words “Dog Patch” providing a background for government officials and legislators who were there to hear the problems residents have been experiencing for years.
Community member Tracie Rice said this was the first time legislators have visited Blue Summit in 30 to 40 years.
“We have not had any legislative activity up here,” she said.
Jackson County Legislators Jalen Anderson and Tony Miller were joined by Randy Diehl, development administrator for the Jackson County Codes Department. Diehl confirmed the department has been active in the Blue Summit community since the previous community meeting, which took place last month. During that meeting, the community’s ongoing trash problem was addressed, with small mountains of waste steadily growing around the area, specifically in abandoned homes.
“We just cleaned a big one up this afternoon,” Diehl said. “And I know within the last week we’ve tagged three more.”
One of the main issues, according to Diehl, is that funding needs to become available before the department can get to work on houses tagged for cleanup.
However according to several residents at the meeting, cleaning the messes addresses a problem, but not it’s underlying cause, which according to them is a lack of enforcement in the area. Several residents spoke about incidents involving rising drug use and other violent and illegal activity in the area, as well as ongoing slow response times from law enforcement. Some residents claimed no response was sent at all in several instances. While the trash continues to pile up, it’s surrounded by crime that only adds to it or prevents it from being cleaned.
Capt. David Epperson represented the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department, and his response was the same as the department’s during the previous meeting. He instructed residents to call back when a response does not arrive at their location.
“One of the things we need to make them (the Sheriff’s Department) do is bring back a single car to us and stay here, and be here every day. That would deter a lot of different problems,” one resident said.
Inter City Fire Protection District Chief Jeff Jewell said the long response time is partially due to the fact that Blue Summit 911 calls are sent to Kansas City’s dispatch, instead of a closer jurisdiction.
While no easy answers were obtained, getting their problems in front of legislators was a success in itself, according to Rice. She said in the near future she will be working with other residents to form a committee to more formally identify the specific needs of the community and take action.
Rice said she hopes to see more community meetings in the future, but a date has not been set yet.