OPINION

Welcome improvements in the works for the Independence Square

The Examiner

The city of Independence is moving ahead with long-discussed plans for improvements to the Square. It’s a good step to build on successes to date. 

As much progress as the Square has seen in the last generation or so, more is needed. The sidewalks need work, as does other infrastructure. There's very little green space. Traffic flows might need a tweak. 

One of the planned changes is a greenway for bicyclists and pedestrians that is seen one day running from the Truman Library to the Square and on out to Kauffman and Arrowhead stadiums. That means visitors, tourism spending and added community vibrancy.  

Independence – like many, many suburban cities – suffers from a woeful lack of sidewalks and bike trails. It's just not an easy city in which to get around by foot, though many have to make do the best they can. Pedestrians deserve better. And if anything, things are even worse for bicyclists.  

These are quality-of-life issues that won't get fixed easily or quickly, but this greenway is something that can be done. Maybe it will open eyes to other possibilities. 

The Square has benefited from significant private investment. New businesses continue to open, even during pandemic uncertainty. Cities often invest in infrastructure in anticipation of private investment. This is more the other way around, a catching up that makes sense. 

The community has also benefited from the public/private investment in the Independence Uptown Market, and it has become a valuable venue for a wide range of community events. 

(Full disclosure: The Examiner earlier this year moved to offices in the edge of the Square, and we welcome the opportunity to feel more tightly woven into this particular part of the wider community.) 

The city is using $1.4 million in one-time funding – the federal stimulus money Congress approved earlier this year – to help pay for the Square upgrades. That makes sense. It won’t divert money from regular, ongoing city spending. Some of the federal stimulus money is also going to bolster the Independence Police Department, including retention bonuses to address the shortage of officers.  

The Square upgrades are set to include things as simple as trees and shrubs. That would make the place feel and function a little better. 

And the one- and two-way streets might get a re-do, as happens now and then over the years. The same goes for parking. The city’s history – and again this isn’t unique to Independence – is a lot of fuss to finally arrive at a little change. It’s OK. It’s important to adapt to the times.