Westwood governing body candidates on the issues: Next steps for ‘The 47’

Jay Senter - October 21, 2019 4:00 pm
A rendering of a proposed bike lane on 47th Street produced by BikeWalkKC.

Last month, we asked our readers what issues they wanted to hear the candidates running for local office address ahead of this fall’s local elections primary. Based on the input we received, we developed a three-item questionnaire for candidates running for governing body in Westwood.

Today we publish the candidates’ responses to item one:

Westwood, Roeland Park and KCK have been collaborating on ways to continue revitalization of the 47th Street corridor for a few years now. What next steps do you think are most crucial to that initiative? Why?

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Mayor

David Waters

Prior to my time on the Westwood City Council, I served on the 47th Street Committee for five years. I have been thrilled to see the cooperative work of our three cities continue to grow. With the rollout of “The 47” initiative, new street banners, and the Foodie Fest, we are truly creating a sense of place around 47th Street.

Our next step is to implement the street, sidewalk, and bike lane improvements for 47th Street that the 47th St. Committee has spent so much time planning. Westwood is set to receive a $250,000 Transportation Improvement Plan grant from the Mid-America Regional Council (MARC) for a “Complete Street Action Plan” for 47th Street from Rainbow Boulevard to just west of Mission Road. This project is part of a “Planning Sustainable Places” initiative and will include a new street design and a “road diet” from four lanes of vehicular traffic to three (with one being a center turn lane). This will allow our City to provide painted bike lanes on both sides of the street, while also reducing vehicle speed and allowing for a more pedestrian-friendly corridor.

In future years, our cities expect to receive additional local construction grants and Federal construction funds totaling over $1.5 million to make even more permanent improvements. Westwood is also working closely with the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority (KCATA) on new facilities and routes to better connect people and the City of Westwood itself to the metro area through reliable public transportation.

This reinvestment in one of Westwood’s primary corridors, and with the invaluable work of the 47th Street Committee, will help bring new and expanded business opportunities to Westwood, expand our tax base, and even more firmly establish Westwood as THE place to live, work, and visit.

City Council (at-large)

Laura Steele

Multi-modal transportation options. With the hope that this corridor becomes a destination spot for the audience beyond Westwood, Roeland Park and KCK, I think it’s time to consider how people are going to want to get there as well as the impact an influx of cars will have on the infrastructure, noise, traffic congestion, safety and accessibility of the area. Part of my love for Westwood is the fact that it’s a very walkable and bike-able area and it would be great to see more people walking and biking to our local shops through a corridor that encourages public and active transportation options. With two small kids it’s so much easier to get the stroller out and walk to the different restaurants, parks, grocery stores and other amenities without fighting traffic, parking or car seats. The other benefit is that we get to know our neighborhood on a more intimate level while getting in some physical activity and a wave or two at a neighbor.

I also believe that reinforcing and strengthening the collaborations and work that were forged due to the revitalization process will be crucial to the continued success of the 47th Street corridor. Those relationships are the perfect example of the type of cross-municipality/cross-county alliances that need to be cultivated and broadened and that I’m excited to work on. Westwood is stronger because of these partnerships. They are vital to opening our community up to further opportunities.

Jayme Tebow

Did not respond.

Holly Wimer

I love the collaboration that is happening between Westwood, Roeland Park and KCK on the development of 47th street corridor. To continue this development, it is crucial to increase the safety of pedestrians and bike riders using this area. In “47th Street Complete Street Plan” there are many great recommendations that will enhance the safety, accessibility and livability for all people to enjoy this area. In addition to seeing this plan through, I see it as crucial to maintain great working relationships with the current businesses in this district, and to also engage potential business owners who are considering operating here. There are many businesses that enhance the lifestyles of the community in this area, and doing what we can to work towards maintaining and growing a thriving and community oriented business district is important.

Tomorrow we’ll publish the candidates’ responses to item two:

The Westwood City Council has been exploring the idea of adopting a non-discrimination ordinance that would provide legal protections for LGBTQ+ individuals. Do you support the idea of a non-discrimination ordinance in Westwood? Why or why not?

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