Les Cline is highly aware of a street in Kansas City that dissects the 49/63 neighborhood in Kansas City — Troost Avenue.
But it’s just the name of a street, says Cline, president of the 49/63 Neighborhood Coalition.
“There’s no wall or fence or force field running down Troost,” Cline says.
Founded in 1971, the coalition’s borders run from 49th to 63rd streets, and Paseo to Oak. Brush up on the neighborhood in this profile on 49-63.
Last week, the coalition hosted KCUR’s first community listening session, part of our Beyond Our Borders project that takes a look at how geographical boundaries affect Kansas Citians. The project is first taking a look at how Troost serves as a socioeconomic border in Kansas City.
Roughly 25 people from the neighborhood attended the session and shared with KCUR what matters to their community.
We invited Cline to speak on the air about the group’s concerns. Here’s a recap of Cline’s Tuesday interview with Gina Kaufmann, host of talk show Central Standard:
What is 49/63?
“49/63 has a long history. In fact, we are the oldest continuously active neighborhood organization in Kansas City and the only organization that I know of that has its boundaries on both east and west side of Troost Avenue.”
What were some specific things that came up during the community listening session?
“I liked how one resident described it as a ‘diversity of diversity.’ We have diversity in our people. The housing types. The transportation modes. Our neighborhoods are very walkable, bikeable … We have over 100 businesses in our area. And charter schools. There’s a lot of different things going on in our community.”
Is there a division within your association, people who live east of Troost, people who live west of Troost?
“This theme of Beyond our Borders is such a beautiful concept because we are definitely aware of a border that runs right through the middle of our neighborhood association, which is Troost. Yet it’s just the name of a street … There’s no wall or fence or force field running down Troost.”
Do you think there is some piece of reality in the idea that there is a difference in what you experience on different sides of Troost?
“Absolutely … We don’t turn away or try to deny the fact that east of Troost has some areas that need some help. They need additional investment, attention and resources.”
Do you see any practical steps that are likely to lead to (the rehabilitation of the neighborhood)?
“We don’t run away or walk away from tough challenges. We embrace them. We stick with them. We don’t sell our houses and move out to the golden ring south of 199th Street. We’re there for the duration.”
What are three challenges facing your neighborhood?
“One that we’re working on very diligently is the housing stock and abandoned, vacant properties. There’s a big problem with absentee landlords that are irresponsible, developers who put profits ahead of the community’s needs.”
“The schools are a concern. And there was a real hot spot defined in the Kansas City Star the other day, which showed a hugely disproportionate number of murders happening just east and north of our border, and that’s a big concern for 49/63.”
This look at the Troost corridor is part of KCUR's months-long examination of how geographic borders affect our daily lives in Kansas City. KCUR will go Beyond Our Borders and spark a community conversation through social outreach and innovative journalism.
We will share the history of these lines, how the borders affect the current Kansas City experience and what’s being done to bridge or dissolve them. Be a source for Beyond Our Borders: Share your perspectives and experiences east of Troost with KCUR.