A group of Mission Woods residents have formed a task force and are threatening to take legal action to stop work on expansion of a parking lot serving the University of Kansas Hospital Administration Center in Westwood after complaints that the city didn’t follow proper procedures to get the project approved.
Mission Woods residents Jay and Ingred Sidie are leading the effort against the project after they say their repeated inquiries about how the project got approved have been met with limited response from the small city’s mayor, Robert Tietze. The Sidies claim that Tietze improperly employed a procedure in the city’s by-laws that permits its Architectural Review Board to approve minor changes and routine projects. Jay said that a project of such scope in a city of only 180 residents should have required more public deliberation.
“Everything was done behind closed doors,” Jay said. “No meetings were held or information shared with the community until the project was well underway…The parking expansion aesthetic and design do not align with Mission Woods community.”
The hospital had long coveted the ability to expand its Rainbow Avenue lot, which sits in Mission Woods directly across the street from the Westwood office and clinical facilities. But the project had been on hold for quite some time before work began to prepare the lot for additional parking this summer.
After more than a week of sometimes tense correspondence between the homeowners and city officials, Tietze this week called a special meeting for Monday, Oct. 27 to discuss the project. Tietze has indicated to the group that a member of the city council is working to compile a timeline outlining the process by which the project was approved. Reached for comment Thursday, however, Tietze said he would not be discussing the situation. But pressed on whether the project needed the sign off of the city’s planning commission or city council, Tietze contended that “That is not the case in Mission Woods.”
The Sidies have engaged legal counsel and say they are prepared to take action Friday to halt construction on the project if the city doesn’t immediately improve transparency about how the project was approved.