Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Leawood smacks down people that want Ironwoods Park to themselves.

I told you I'd keep an eye on this whole Ironwoods situation and that I'd look into it further.

This whole thing proves that all politics is local. The whole world seems to be coming apart and in laconic little Leawood rich people got together to argue about what a bathroom means in a park.

The issue at hand was the Park Department wanting to build another bathroom in Ironwoods Park (and eventually a new amphitheater) and the residents of Steeplechase really, really hating the idea.

I snuck in to check it out cause from the looks of things a handful of Steeplechase residents along with a few Leabrooke people that they scared were looking to mix it up last night with Leawood staff and the Planning Commission.

Here were a few highlights. Full house.

First, I thought it was very nice for them to put this issue first on the agenda so a bunch of rich assholes wouldn't have to be inconvenienced through a whole bunch of mundane city planning issues. They also allowed public comment which they said is unusual for this type of agenda item. It shoots down some conspiracy theories about people out to get them otherwise I would have thought that the issue would have been buried an hour and a half into the meeting and then they would have operated as usual without further public comment. The Planning Commission and City of Leawood get high credit for that gesture. Can you imagine how it would have been handled in a city like Chicago?

But there was actual drama. The people against the bathroom and in reality an expanded amphitheater came prepared to hit the Planning Commission with not only emotional appeals but LEGAL ones. They claimed during public comment that the request was basically "out of date" because the process started too long ago and city ordinance says they only have 2 years in one case or 5 years in another but in either case too many since the original plan was proposed. It sounded compelling like the gotcha in Legally Blonde when Elle Woods points out that you can't wash your hair after a perm and therefore murdered your father. In fact, the Planning Commission.......nice ordinary neighborly appointed volunteers.......asked to abruptly go into executive session to seek legal clarification from the city attorney on the finer points of the claim.

After that brief break they reappeared and explanation was given on definitions of many different kinds of plan approvals and the timing of such. Basically, the whole plan was given final approval when the park plan was approved back in 2001 and as such my interpretation is that they consider the whole thing a continuation of the original development....over time. As such, the Park Department was asking for approval of a revised final plan because they were changing some parts of it. Here is where it gets a little tricky. The Park Department deemed the changes minor so the Planning Commission called it a revision. The rich, angry, white, asshole Steeplechase people I guess wanted to consider the change major. The Planning Commission noted the revised plan is smaller and further away from neighbors than the original final approved plan and so they considered the changes minor and as such..........approved them. Unanimously. Big groans from the crowd.

The Planning Commission pinned down the director of Parks on moving forward if the amphitheater was also approved on a final plan in the 2001 plan and if she would have to come back for approval to proceed. She danced a bit and then confirmed the amphitheater had already received final approval. Game, set, match. Leawood Park and Artsy People. While they had played nice, they held all the cards and laid them down. Smackdown. Bigger groans and tsk, tsk from the crowd.

Steeplechase HOA determined they prepared to take legal action. I'm not sure if that is serious or if they thought it would scare the Planning Commission. They weren't scared. Lawyers always find a way to make money don't they?

Interesting side topics of the meeting. The Steeplechase people paid for a property value study that suggested the closest properties would lose $60,000 in value if an expanded amphitheater were built even though comments about a theater were suppose to be off limits. I thought this was interesting. They paid someone to write a report that told them what they wanted to hear and as such seems to lack much credibility but as they asked it to be put in the record basically screwed themselves. In my mind they diminished their own home values when they go to sell it to any savy negotiator. I'd love to live backed up to that park and I'd gladly take it at a $60,000 discount.........first they would have to deal with those power lines though.....those look shitty. When one of those houses go up for sale I can't wait to see if it is actually at a $60K discount or if their tune will change........we live right on the awesome park....don't look at the power line though.

Also, it was fascinating to see some of the people and put a name with a face on some of the emails I've been getting on this issue......specifically Kerry Phillips. Apparently she is the ring leader of this group and was wearing a very tight sweater. (I've removed some comments because Mrs Phillips husband was pretty pissed at me and I can understand why.........I probably crossed the line) Darren Holmes was there as well and I wrote a post about him as well way back when. Guess I was right.

And all this brings me back to my original comments about rich people in half a million dollar homes not being smart enough to ask about a master plan for a park behind their home before they bought it.........but thinking enough of themselves that they could stomp their feet enough and throw a big enough tantrum to change it and essentially work to keep a park that is for all of Leawood just to themselves.

I guess onto City Council they march?


Anonymous said...

Sounds like it was quite the interesting meeting! Always fun to put a name with a face. Especially when initial hunches are right.

Anonymous said...

That is some funny stuff man. I like the picture.

Anonymous said...

Are you going to give us anything new, based on the working session and then council meeting on this topic that happened tonight? I enjoy your perspective. Wonder if the Steeplechase people know as a whole that the project has been approved, or just those in attendance know.