Diversity, walkability, housing affordability: Roeland Park residents offer input as part of ‘Moving Forward 2040’ process

Roeland Park Mayor Mike Kelly kicked off the comprehensive plan update’s public workshop by thanking residents for coming out.

Roeland Park residents want affordable housing, diversity, restaurants and walkability to be in the city’s future.

Those were among the key takeaways from a public workshop for the city’s comprehensive plan update on Nov. 21.

“I’m, again, so pleasantly surprised that Roeland Parkers aren’t afraid to show up,” Mayor Mike Kelly said to the attendees. “We appreciate your opinions — they might not always align with everything that we want to hear, but that’s the most important opinions.”

The city is working to complete a comprehensive plan update in 2020, which is being led by the urban design firm Confluence. A comprehensive plan is a long range, big picture view of the community and helps guide decision making, Confluence Principal Chris Shires said. The plan eventually adopted by the city council should influence rules, regulations and policies the city adopts, Shires said.

The plan, dubbed Roeland Park Moving Forward 2040, will provide a 20-year vision for the city. Currently, the comprehensive plan update is in phase two of four, with the phases including the following:

  • Phase one, which began in August 2019, included data collection and analysis.
  • Phase two is expected to take around two months, and includes a public and youth workshop, interviews with stakeholders, and an input, visioning and goals review meeting.
  • Phase three includes a draft plan presentation and review workshop over the course of three months.
  • Phase four will see a final draft review, a public hearing and will conclude with adoption by the city council.

Residents were asked to offer input on the future of Roeland Park during the public workshop. For one exercise, Shires had residents write a short postcard to a loved one explaining what Roeland Park has to offer for visitors in the year 2040.

One resident wrote and read aloud that in the year 2040, Roeland Park would have diversity in population, housing stock and outdoor activities. Another resident said the Roeland Park would be a great place for young families to set down roots and stay.

“Dear family,” another resident said. “It is the year 2040 and you should visit me here in Roeland Park because we can walk to great restaurants, everything is green and the skies are dark.”

Following the postcard exercise, Shires presented preliminary data about Roeland Park such as resident demographics and socio-economic information. He then conducted another exercise in which attendees wrote down the city’s greatest opportunities versus the greatest challenges.

The current comprehensive plan, created in 2012, aimed to enhance the image, livability and long-term sustainability of the city, Shires said. Later on in the workshop, attendees broke out into smaller groups to discuss ideas in-depth.

The next step for the comprehensive plan update is the input, vision and goals review meeting on Dec. 17 at Roeland Park City Hall, 4600 W. 51st Street.