Discussion About Roeland Park Development Raises Questions About 'Art'

Jan 13, 2017

Like a handful of other cities in the Kansas City metro area, Roeland Park, Kansas, has a funding mechanism for public art. Roeland Park's one percent for art program was established in 2010 by a city council resolution, and it sets aside one percent of development costs for art. 

But city administrator Keith Moody says the program hasn't been tested a lot. At least not more than once to his knowledge. 

"There hasn’t been a lot of development in Roeland Park since the adoption of the one percent for arts dedication resolution," he says. "So it isn’t something that we deal with frequently." 

Moody says the last major development in Roeland Park was the Lowe's Home Improvement Center and Price Chopper on Roe Avenue. The public art installed? A fountain. 

This week, the Shawnee Mission Post reported "friction" between the Roeland Park and Commerce Bank over proposed public art at a new development. The estimated $6 million to $9 million project at the northwest corner of Johnson Drive and Roe Avenue, approved by the city council in October, is slated to include a "micro hospital" and a Commerce Bank branch office. 

According to Moody, Commerce officials presented a proposal to the city's arts advisory committee, which coordinates the public display of art. 

"Their [Commerce's] initial proposal reflected a seating wall," says Moody. "And we did present that to the arts committee for their direction. Their [arts committee's] direction was it's more of a landscaping component than they felt it was 'art.'" 

Commerce Bank's Lori Roesler says it's just the beginning stages for the project. But she wants to make clear, as she writes in an email: "Commerce Bank is committed to the arts in the communities we serve. We are excited to participate in the one percent program in Roeland Park." 

Members of the Roeland Park City Council are expected to take up the issue on Tuesday during a work session. And the arts selection committee is slated to meet on Wednesday.

Laura Spencer is an arts reporter at KCUR 89.3. You can reach her on Twitter @lauraspencer.