Kansas City North Students Finally Get Sidewalks Around Neighborhood School

Jan 11, 2016

Money has been found to build some sidewalks around Maplewood Elementary in Kansas City's Northland. Many children can see their school, but it's too dangerous to walk.
Credit Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

By next school year, dozens of students in the North Kansas City School District will finally have a somewhat safer way to walk to school.

Students who live within blocks of Maplewood Elementary School on North Freemont Avenue have been bused to school for years because the district deemed the walk too dangerous.

But neighborhood activist Jason Withington promised he wouldn't stop until money was found to help build sidewalks. Now he has, at least, a partial victory.

In an email, Withington said he found some money in an old TIF project used to build sewers in the booming neighborhoods north of the river.
"We received $250,000 from the Searcy Creek TIF to install about 2,400 feet of sidewalk around Maplewood Elementary," Withington wrote.

Sidewalks will be built along Northeast 52nd Street on the south side of the school, and along North Burlington Avenue on the eastern edge.

That doesn't solve the problem for the kids who live near Maplewood.

"This is a good start, but we still have a long way to go. Kids still have to walk in ditches or in the roadway to get to these sidewalks," Withington wrote.

He says it could take up to $8 million to add curbs and sidewalks and improve storm sewers in the neighborhood.

As KCUR 89.3 reported in September, it would take Jessica Andrews’ four kids about five minutes to walk to Maplewood Elementary School in the Northland.

“We’re really, really close. Why aren't they walking, it’s so close? There’s no sidewalks. It’s not safe for them to walk," Andrews said.

She said there’s so much traffic now that it scares her 11-year-old daughter.

"She does not want to walk to school. She is scared to walk to school," Andrews said. "I think it’s just because of this street. She just doesn’t feel safe. And she’ll tell you, there’s no sidewalk."

Withington says construction is expected to start in June and be ready for the new school year in August.

Sam Zeff covers education for KCUR 89.3. He's also co-host of KCUR's political podcast Statehouse Blend. Follow him on Twitter @samzeff.