Today we continue with the Overland Park mayoral candidates’ responses to our general election questionnaire. Here’s the third item:
Data from the city’s neighborhood stabilization initiative suggest that Ward 1— which includes the oldest areas of the city — has the highest concentration of priority issues, including absentee ownership and crime. What steps does the city need to take over the next four years to bring Ward 1 into line with the rest of the city?
Carl Gerlach (incumbent)
Ward 1 is a great place to live. There are only a few areas within our City, where we need to add some additional resources. In those areas, we should: a) continue redeveloping the older areas, bringing new services to the area like we have in Downtown Overland Park and b) continue our community oriented policing and increased police presence with programs such as the “All Nets. No Drugs. Basketball Tournament” which the police organized to build relationships with youth and c) make sure the absentee landlords maintain their property so existing neighborhood values are maintained and increase. When it comes to enforcement of property codes, Overland Park is doing a better job, according to the latest citywide survey. Enforcement of property maintenance codes helps protect the viability and vitality of the City’s neighborhoods and property owners’ investments. This has been an ongoing priority of the Council and myself.
Walking in Ward 1 has given me a first hand look at the neighborhoods, which are attracting young families who are busy renovating their homes. In certain neighborhoods, especially east of Metcalf, houses are being purchased and torn down for new construction. This is the type of redevelopment we must encourage. I do not support the current city council’s 2017 legislative agenda stating they support the use of TIF districts for the redevelopment of these neighborhoods, which means converting them from single family to apartment complexes. Our single-family neighborhoods are one of the great strengths of O.P. and should be protected and preserved. Ward 1 gives the first time homebuyer an opportunity to live in O.P.
Infrastructure should continue to be upgraded; the allocation of the CIP $10 million for a bridge to nowhere on Quivira south of 179th should be reallocated to Ward 1.
Tomorrow we’ll publish the candidates’ responses to item four: What’s one amenity you’d like to see in Overland Park that does not currently exist?