Proposal would turn stretch of roads in Westport into private st - KCTV5

Proposal would turn stretch of roads in Westport into private streets

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Westport is a popular area that fills up quickly on a weekend night. Now, the city and businesses in the area are trying to figure out how to keep residents and visitors safe. (KCTV5) Westport is a popular area that fills up quickly on a weekend night. Now, the city and businesses in the area are trying to figure out how to keep residents and visitors safe. (KCTV5)
KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -

Westport is a popular area that fills up quickly on a weekend night. Now, the city and businesses in the area are trying to figure out how to keep residents and visitors safe.

However, some are worried it goes too far.

“I'm a bit concerned about the city just giving away that right of way and anytime you give away, anytime you privatize what was once a public space, the citizens give up some of their rights,” resident Eric Bunch said.

At least, that’s the perception about a memorandum of understanding proposed by the Westport Regional Business League.

The memorandum has been in the works for months and would give the streets over to the businesses in the area, called a Vacation of the Public Right of Ways.

It would stretch down Pennsylvania Avenue from 40th Street to Archibald Avenue and on Westport Road from Broadway to Mill Street.

“I think the concern immediately was for the long term permanent consequences of something that's designed to solve a legitimate problem,” Bunch said.

Councilman Quinton Lucas said this is just one part of fixing the well-documented issues in Westport. However, he says all the kinks are still getting worked out.

“This is not just giving away something in perpetuity, right? There's a memorandum of understanding and the idea is that the city can basically have claw backs in the event that we see that there's a constitutional issue, if the Westport Merchant Association isn't applying it properly or frankly, if this is a significant impediment to the neighborhoods,” Lucas said.

Bunch’s concerns don’t end there, though. Further in the memorandum, there is the discussion of restricting access to the area at the business community’s discretion.

Aside from Friday and Saturday nights from 11 p.m. to 4 a.m., there are several other times for example: the Friday, Saturday, and Sunday (24 hours) immediately before Memorial Day, anytime during the seven-day celebration of Oktoberfest in late September and/or early October (24 hours), as well as a possible cover charge to get in the area.

“The CID intends to charge people to enter at certain times. It's not clear if they plan to do that every one of the times that's identified, but also they would restrict access to people under 21,” said Bunch. “I have children. One of my 4-year-old's favorite restaurants is McCoys and will during those times, say Middle of the Map, will he be restricted from entering just to walk to our favorite restaurant.”

“In terms of kind of the real neighborhood challenges which is the core of this in some ways, that we'll be closing some things down when folks are just trying to get through? We're very mindful of that and that's why we're trying to have a fairly narrow application of when they can close down in terms of times,” said Lucas, “and the city will continue to have a relationship with when they can have street closures and how many events they can have that close things.”

Lucas says that those with concerns can reach out to city council members as well as the businesses in the area to voice their concerns with this moving forward. 

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