Lenexa City Council candidates on the issues: Future of historic Old Town

Old Town is going through significant changes, particularly with the closure last summer of long-time business Old Town Hair & Nail. File photo.

In August, we asked our readers about the issues you wanted to hear the candidates running for Lenexa City Council address. Based on your feedback, we developed a five-item questionnaire touching on the most important issues to patrons of the district.

Each day this week, we will publish the candidates’ responses to one of five questions. Today, we are publishing candidates’ responses to the following question:

With the departure of Old Town Hair & Nail and a change of ownership along the corner block at Santa Fe Trail and Pflumm, Old Town is going through some significant changes. What do you hope to see for this historic and special part of Lenexa?

Below are the answers the Post received from the candidates on this issue:

Ward 4

Craig Denny

I hope to see Old Town Lenexa as a growing, vibrant and sustainable area of Lenexa, which retains its historic charm and character. The forthcoming renovation of the Community/Senior Center will create an inviting venue, which can spur thoughtful private residential and commercial developments and renovations in the Old Town area. Our Freedom Run, Community Days Parade and Chili Fest should continue to be held in and around Old Town and with the completion of the Community Center/Senior Center renovations, new events may be attracted to the area.

Scott Callaway

This has been an issue I see first hand and hear about regularly living in Lenexa West. Many of the opinions from residents echo a repeated impression that Old Town Lenexa has been largely ignored by city leadership, with focus shifting to provide infrastructure improvements and city developments west of 435, furthering the notion there is a 435 east/west divide.

The history around Old Town Lenexa has long been one of the many cornerstones of Lenexa and I feel that it is a waste that we are not doing more to help our local businesses and community by developing this area to make it one of the many attractive destinations for families to visit. We really need to be speaking to our local business leaders to ask what their needs are and where the roadblocks exist that city council can assist in relieving. Some buildings experience some flooding during heavy rains because our water drainage system near the railroad needs to be repaired, a problem that has existed for years and has not been adequately addressed. That is one problem I would like to tackle.

Attending the local Chili Cookoff held recently in Old Town and seeing its success in bringing out the community for a very successful event suggests we need to show results in revitalizing this area so that it can be a success story for Lenexa. I would invite businesses, residents and community leaders to come together to focus on removing roadblocks and developing more opportunities to bring events and businesses to this area.

Ward 3

Corey Hunt (incumbent)

I hope to see continued revitalization in Old Town and I will work hard towards that goal. I have consistently voted for investment in Old Town during my tenure on the Council. Looking around Old Town, you will see new storm-water projects that have helped maintain or in most cases increase home owner’s property value, we have made significant investment in streetlight replacement and side-walk repairs which will continue. In addition, I voted to bring the Wayside-Horns to Old-Town which will significantly decrease the noise created by passing trains between our two crossings and I actually believe this will increase many home values directly adjacent to Noland Rd and Pflumm Rd crossings. Currently there are many home renovations underway in Old Town and there are even some new homes being constructed on some of the last lots available. These are great indicators that Old Town isn’t just an “old town” with neat homes, it is a desirable place to live and one of the most charming neighborhoods in Lenexa! Just this week I voted to approve a Capital Improvement Project plan which includes funding for the new Senior Citizen/Community Center, which I believe will go a long way to spark activity in and around Old Town.

I believe you will continue to see Old Town hosting festival favorites such as the Chili Challenge, Food Truck Frenzy, our Freedom Run on July 4th, the Moonlight Bike Ride and other events Lenexan’s have come to love. I will continue to support the revitalization effort as I believe Old-Town Lenexa embodies all of the city characteristics Lenexan’s love. I support ensuring the council helps to create an environment in Old Town where property owners, developers and investors feel good about making investments there. After all, my wife and I live inside Octave Chanute’s original plotting of the Lenexa City Plat, “Old Town”. I hope to see Lenexa’s Old Town again become a vibrant part of Lenexa’s happenings and I am confident it will!

Melanie Arroyo

The bottom line is: Old Town Lenexa needs investment from the city. Residents are concerned about what they see as disinvestment in the older parts of Lenexa and I believe their concerns are valid and real. My opponent has repeatedly said, at SM Post forums and elsewhere, that he doesn’t believe residents see a divide between the older, eastern parts of Lenexa and the newer, western parts.

I find that idea hard to take seriously due to the number of times this issue has come up in my conversations with residents. So the first step would be acknowledging the issue, since you can’t solve a problem you don’t believe is real.

Ultimately, I want to work with the community to find solutions that keep Old Town Lenexa vibrant and prosperous, and respectful of its long history, while changing enough to meet 21st century needs. By working together and facilitating community involvement in the planning and development process, we can ensure we are building a Lenexa that meets the needs of ALL Lenexans.

On Wednesday, we will publish the candidates’ responses to the following question:

Climate change continues to be top of mind for many Shawnee Mission Post readers. What steps can Lenexa take to prepare neighborhoods for increased flooding, along with extreme heat and drought events? What steps would you like to see the city take to build climate resilience?