"We need to finish the 18th and Vine District," said Kansas City, Missouri, Manager Troy Schulte in an opening statement at Wednesday evening's public forum on three different but intersecting plans for the historic Jazz District.
Schulte was joined on the pulpit of the Centennial United Methodist Church by 3rd District Councilman-at-Large Quinton Lucas and Harrietta Harris, a plaintiff in the court challenge to a private development plan for the Parade Park Homes.
The two hour conversation, organized by KCUR in collaboration with The Call, reflected the passion and frustration of a mostly African American population that feels excluded from decades of decisions about how to revitalize the once-thriving heart of it's community.
Here are some of the highlights:
Quinton Lucas, 3rd District Councilman-At- Large on the city's proposed package of improvements:
"I want this project to happen because I want this infusion of money to be spent in this district and this area. I don't get the benefit of defeating a project like this because this is going to bring us jobs and this will bring us community benefits."
Marvin Lyman- President and CEO, Black Economic Union on sharing the benefits of revitalization efforts:
"Make sure black people, who have the highest unemployment in the city, get jobs, jobs in the owning, designing and managing of projects. Because that's where the wealth is. It's with the J.E. Dunns, the Turner Constructions, the J.C. Nichols — the author of restrictive covenants. So if we want to be real we will design something that has the community in mind. Not only in mind but at the table. "
Mark McHenry, Director of the Kansas City Board of Parks and Recreation Commissioners on the Urban Youth Baseball Academy sponsored by the Kansas City Royals:
"We are looking for young men and women who live in the area. The Kansas City Royals will run this program but the youth they want to identify are those who live in the neighborhood. They'll come from the Boys and Girls Club, The RBI (community) program and right over here from the Gregg/Klice Community Center."
Community activist Delmira Quarles Kamehameha:
"People are concerned because every time they're promised something they don't get it — the money seems to disappear. They really don't believe anything until it happens. Until the people see that concern about this community is real, nothing is going to be accepted, I'm sorry to say, but that's the way it is in Kansas City."