Overland Park mayoral candidates on the issues: Flooding and climate change

Brush Creek

Overland Park Wards mayoral candidates discuss steps they would like to see Overland Park take to prepare neighborhoods for increased flooding, along with extreme heat and drought event. Filed image.

In August, we asked our readers about the issues you wanted to hear the candidates running for Overland Park Mayor address.

Based on your feedback, we developed a five-item questionnaire touching on the most important issues to the citizens of Overland Park.

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:

Climate change continues to be top of mind for many Shawnee Mission Post readers. What steps can Overland Park 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?

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

Curt Skoog

As a member of Climate Action KC and the Mid-America Regional Council, which recently joined forces to create the Kansas City Regional Climate Action Plan, I have made sure that Overland Park has taken steps to both address climate change and save taxpayer money.

The recently approved city Infrastructure Advisory Group will perform an evaluation of city standards for building and maintaining streets. I was successful in including a review of current stormwater management practices to be considered, as well. Rain events are a predicted symptom of climate change in our area. Implementing the recommendations will likely include additional green infrastructure that will slow down water flow and provide natural filtering.

Reducing carbon emissions is important for our city and region. As Mayor, I will expand the city’s fleet of electric vehicles, electric charging stations and LED lighting. In recent years we have been converting all streetlights to LED. This project will be completed in 2021. The first city constructed charging station was installed last month at the Myron Scafe Building.

In an ongoing effort to improve the energy efficiency of new homes and businesses in our community, I will support efforts like the recently approved solar-ready and electric vehicle-ready pilot program. Overland Park will discount building permit fees for builders that pre-wire electrical circuits for future installations of electric vehicle charging stations and roof-mounted solar panels. The upfront cost of pre-wiring a building is much less expensive than adding the electrical connection after the home or building is constructed.

I will lead Overland Park to incorporate the principles of the Climate Action plan in our communities’ thinking. The first major step will be including the Climate Action Plan as a work group topic in the city’s upcoming Comprehensive Plan process. This important update will be built on an extensive public process. I look forward to your participation to keep Overland Park moving forward.

Mike Czinege

There are a number of initiatives OP could begin to improve sustainability. First, we need to better plan and develop land in the city. Parts of the city have already been over-developed and have caused significant water run-off and flooding issues. Creek banks have eroded and have caused property damage to private and commercial property. We need to develop plans to remediate what has already been done. Then, we need to better assess potential water issues with future development as less and
less ground saturation is possible with the encroaching concrete and asphalt from construction.

Second, we should encourage all new commercial building to follow levels of LEEDS sustainable building standards to reduce energy consumption and improve water usage. Third, we should continuously look for effective application of improving technologies to take advantage of new opportunities to reduce city energy usage, whether through lighting, fuel, transportation or other evolving technologies.

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

What’s one area of the Overland Park city budget where you would support reducing funding, and what’s one area where you would support increasing funding? Why?