Development issues, improved citizen engagement among top priorities for new Roeland Park Mayor Mike Kelly

Roeland Park Mayor Mike Kelly.
Roeland Park Mayor Mike Kelly.

Mike Kelly says his first meeting as Roeland Park mayor gave him reason to be optimistic about the work of the city’s governing body over the coming months.

The city council’s deliberations in recent years haven’t always been collegial. But in the meeting that saw him and four new councilmembers seated, Kelly said he picked up on a noticeable improvement in tone.

“We do have a good working rapport,” he said of the new governing body. “I think we had a really substantive conversation, especially about the future of the pool. Really, I thought we set a nice tone. Which was a little different than we saw at some of the council meetings the last few years.”

The ability to work well together is especially important to Kelly as he begins his service as the city’s top elected official. With major development projects on the horizon both near the border with Mission across from the Gateway site and in the 47th Street corridor near Kansas City, Kan., and Westwood, Roeland Park will likely face some consequential decisions in the coming years.

“We’re on an upward trend, and we really want to run with it because we see what’s possible here,” Kelly said. “We need to maximize the opportunity we have given the great location and demographics we have here.”

While development issues may be the most substantive to come before the council, Kelly said one of his other top priorities will be to improve communication with residents and increase citizen engagement. With the approval of the new city logo in December, the city can start work on updating a variety of communications channels. Kelly said he anticipates work on a new city website will begin in the coming months. Public works will start mapping out new wayfinding signage in hopes of directing more traffic to city parks and other amenities.

“With everything that’s going on nationally and at the state level, we know that people only have a limited amount of time to spend on municipal issues,” Kelly said. “So we want to maximize our punch that we have in that small window.”