While covering the Independence Planning Commission’s discussion of Independence’s 2009-15 capital improvements program last week, one particular proposed project caught my interest.

Under the “water improvements” section, there is a project to install water mains for the development of a new industrial park in eastern Independence at Missouri 78 and Missouri 7. A consistent, reliable water supply would be necessary for an industrial park, according to the project’s justification report. The $674,000 project will only take place, though, if such a development is made.

The Independence Council for Economic Development, in its 2009 business plan, made it a goal to enhance business infrastructure. This includes pursuing the development of a new mixed-use business park. ICED President Tom Lesnak says Independence last developed a new business park in the 1970s.

Last week, Lesnak said he couldn’t provide details about plans for a new business park, but he hopes that ICED will have a decision to make soon.

Two Doors Down replaces Girlfriends

Girlfriends: Let’s Do Lunch closed Dec. 31 at 122 S. Main St. in Independence. Debra Murphy and her mother, Annette, recently opened Two Doors Down in that location as a continuation of their antique business, Uztabz Antiques at 118 S. Main St.

Debra Murphy said she opened Two Doors Down because of additional stock – Two Doors Down offers more affordable vintage items “for the common Joe” than the antiques, she says.

Uztabz opened in August 2001. Debra says she was born with a love for antiques. Another new Independence Square business, Two Men and A Barbie Q, neighbors the two antique stores, and Debra has already developed a friendship with Two Men’s owner, Bob Balot.

“I’ve never, ever woke up and thought, ‘I don’t want to go to work today,’ because I just love being around old stuff,” Debra said.

More memories of courthouse walls

Last week, I profiled John Hayner, an 86-year-old Independence resident who led the city’s urban renewal program more than 30 years ago. The program was responsible for the construction of the retaining walls around the historic Jackson County Courthouse. 

Today, the walls are gone. Bill and Shirley Baker owned The Courthouse Exchange restaurant from 1980 to 2000, and Shirley recalled her memories in a telephone conversation Friday.

“When the walls went up, I know how heartbreaking it was to see the beautiful trees come down because at that time, they were bright orange and red. That was painful,” Shirley said. “When we went into business and the fountains were up, that was pretty much a disaster. I think that was a good idea for the time, but it wasn’t a workable thing.”

Like Hayner, Baker says she is pleased to see the walls come down. She knows John Hayner well and she teased him that he lived long enough to see the walls come full circle.

“Bill and I love history, and it’ll be exciting to see the streets around the Square look like they did in the beginning. It’s pretty neat,” Shirley said. “I’m pretty excited about more parking and returning it back to the way it was. I hope they keep going.”