Councilwoman hosts public meeting on vacant school - KCTV5

Councilwoman, others discuss future of vacant "eyesore"

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INDEPENDENCE, MO (KCTV) -

An area school has become an eyesore for neighbors, and now a councilwoman is asking for feedback on what should be the next step for the property.

Independence City Councilwoman Eileen Weir hosted a public meeting on Tuesday at 5 p.m. at Roberts Parks Pavilion, located near Blue Ridge Boulevard and Blue Ridge Cutoff, to discuss the Anderson Alternative School.

Anderson Alternative School is located on East 35th Street, near Evanston Avenue in Independence. Previously, the school was Pitcher School.

It was acquired by the Independence School District as Kansas City, MO, School District surplus property when Independence annexed Kansas City schools within its city limits. It was then sold off in 2008 to its current owner, developer Gary Hassenflu of Garrison Companies, Kansas City.

The vacant school should have been a senior living center by now, but that hasn't happened.

"The Anderson School project is important to the redevelopment of 40 Highway and the stability of southwestern Independence," Weir said in a press release. "The community is frustrated with the condition of this property and its impact on the area. I am hosting this meeting to talk to my constituents about the action that the city is taking to remedy this problem and to hear their desires for their neighborhood."

Weir and others are frustrated that, five years later, Hassenflu's plan to build the senior facility hasn't been made a reality. She and her constituents are meeting to see what they'd like the city to do, up to having the building demolished with city funds and placing a lien on the property.

Weir said the city, and in particular the school's neighbors, deserve better.

"There's been vandalism over there and people coming in there and animals and weeks and those types of thing you would typically expect," she said. "And then, last year, about April of last year, there was a fire at the building which caused more significant damage to it."

Hassenflu has a hearing next month before a municipal judge about the property and fines he's incurred. When he spoke to KCTV5, he acknowledged the problems with the property and said he wants to work with the city and still plans to build the senior living center.

He also said a demolition plan is set and will begin in three weeks.

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