News about what is happening in Blue Springs, MO

Blue Springs City Council considers bond issuance for Adams Dairy Landing & changes for a possible grocery store on Woods Chapel

clock June 1, 2009 14:50 by author Jeff Quibell

This evening (June 1, 2009) the Blue Springs City Council will be considering the early issuance of bonds to allow the Adams Dairy Landing project to continue to progress towards completion.  They will also be considering changes to the Planned Unit Development for the Oaks at Woods Chapel where a possible grocery store is again in the works for western Blue Springs.  I am looking forward to the debate!


City needs a broader discussion

clock May 21, 2009 02:07 by author Jeff Quibell

Shrine Parade and Homecoming 001 This past weekend, I joined other local Shriners at the American Legion parking lot to sell Vidalia onions to help support both our local Shrine Club and the Ararat Shrine.

As I talked with friends from Blue Springs, the topic turned to the opportunities for progress in our city. We discussed how we don’t always agree on the best ways to achieve that progress, and yet we are able to talk about our differing ideas and viewpoints respectfully. We often find common ground on issues and yet have spirited debate when we disagree. I’ve often heard that the best decisions are made when intelligent people disagree, and through discussion and compromise arrive at mutual agreement.

Our discussion this past weekend turned to the ways in which our City Council conducts the city’s business. Anyone who has watched a Blue Springs City Council meeting would agree that our elected leaders have strong opinions. But most of the dialog in the meetings is not really a discussion as much as they are statements of position. Unfortunately, it is rare when actual discussion occurs between our council members, with each one listening to the others and formulating their opinion based on that discussion and the facts presented.

In a recent speech regarding a controversial issue, President Obama shared that a constituent had admonished him during his presidential campaign to “speak about this issue in fair-minded words.” Our council members need to speak to the issues they are considering in fair-minded words, listen carefully to each other, seek common ground in their discussions, and then make the best possible decision for our city. All members of our City Council need to approach topics and issues with an open mind and seek the best decision through meaningful dialogue.

Each of our elected leaders has a passion to make our city the best possible place for us all to live, work, and raise our families. Our mayor has the skill and capability to lead such discussions and allow the council to approach solutions to controversial issues through serious dialog and working as a team. Our councilmen should be encouraged to take advantage of the mayor’s expertise and work together to improve the decision-making processes they follow.

In completing our work selling onions on Sunday, I join all Shriners in thanking everyone who helped support our local Shrine club by purchasing a bag of onions.


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Leaders must weigh issues carefully

clock May 14, 2009 09:48 by author Jeff Quibell

DSC04450Residents on the west side of Blue Springs have long been asking when the city would pay more attention to Woods Chapel Road and the west side of Blue Springs. Hopefully, they may soon get their answer.

The City Council is to hold a May 18 hearing for the “Petition to Establish the Oaks at Woods Chapel Community Improvement District,” and many are eager to see the details of the proposal.  Seeing the item is on the agenda is an indication that the Oaks at Woods Chapel project is again trying to move forward. With the road improvements recently approved by Blue Springs voters, there may soon be a lot of activity on the west side of town.

On the Adams Dairy Landing project, discussion in the press has centered on whether the city will provide backing for an early offering of a portion of the bonds for road improvements that have already been completed and paid for by RED Development. Councilman Ron Fowler recently wrote, “What this really comes down to is the developers profit vs. taxpayer risk.” The question under consideration has taxpayer risk on both sides of the equation. If the city takes action that allows the project to fail, there is a risk of blight created by a partially completed project at a major intersection and entrance to our city.

Councilman Fowler is correct to suggest that the council needs to carefully consider the risks to the taxpayer. This deserves meaningful council discussion and debate. Perhaps in the future we will see that debate, with each council member discussing the positive and negative aspects of the question and working together to find the best solution.

The TIF projects approved in recent years had many layers of protection built in to protect our taxpayers’ interests. One such protection deals with the profit that the developer may make in return for an investment. The TIF agreements protect our taxpayers by requiring the developer to share their profit with our city, should the project exceed the profit range detailed in the TIF agreement. Think about that for a moment. By working together with the developer and helping them succeed, the taxpayers may get a bonus by sharing in any extra profits. That certainly deserves consideration.

I encourage our leaders to carefully evaluate the details of the TIF agreement, have a meaningful discussion of the pros and cons, and then and only then make their final decision on backing the bonds.


Blue Springs ready to move ahead

clock May 6, 2009 19:51 by author Jeff Quibell

The Blue Springs Economic Development Corporation made an excellent presentation to the City Council this week, giving us a peek at the future of our city and state as an international center for animal and human health research.

The development of the Missouri Innovation Park will bring the original vision of higher paying jobs in Blue Springs to fruition.

The City Council realized several years ago that is was important for development on the Parkway to be well-rounded. Encouraging retail and restaurants in close proximity has facilitated a broader interest in the parkway, making it a desirable place to locate companies that will fulfill the original plan conceived more than 20 years ago.

Organizations such as the University of Missouri, Kansas City Power & Light, the Kansas City Area Development Council and the Kansas City Area Life Sciences Institute are on board and actively promoting Blue Springs as the premier place for this development. Our city has contributed greatly to the initial progress. As citizens, we should support our elected representatives as they carefully consider dedicating future resources to ensure that this development is successful.

New payroll to our citizens and those employed within the project is estimated at approximately $192 million when the project is fully developed. With $341 million in capital investment and as much as 1.74 million square feet in new real estate to be constructed, the total development could bring 3,765 new jobs with an additional 2,140 jobs created indirectly during the construction phases of the project.

When Wanda and I moved here in 1984, Blue Springs was known nationally as the fastest growing community in our nation. The Missouri Innovation Park will shine an international spotlight on Blue Springs in the animal and human health science research industry, and will encourage economic growth and investment throughout our city.

I have participated in many discussions over the last four years, and know that this opportunity was truly a collaborative effort. It was made possible by community leaders willing to adjust the original vision of Adams Dairy Parkway and allow for necessary changes. To Mayor Ross, Brien Starner of the Economic Development Corporation and all of those leaders who continue to support the new vision of Adams Dairy Parkway, I extend my compliments on the progress thus far. Now is the time for the entire City Council to work together and focus on the future to nurture this exciting project for our community!

 

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Take time to set the record straight

clock April 22, 2009 19:21 by author Jeff Quibell

DSC04411 Over the predictable objections of Councilmen Ron Fowler and Sheila Solon, who represent the residents of southern Blue Springs in District 3, the City Council voted 4-2 to continue to advance the Adams Dairy Landing project.

RED Development asked the council to consider allowing the issuance of bonds to pay for the street improvements earlier than originally anticipated and to allow the bond underwriters to consider the city’s credit rating when selling the bonds. It should be noted that this isn’t without risk, but city staff worked very conscientiously to mitigate that risk and put multiple layers of protection into the plan should sales tax revenue decline further.

While I doubt anyone was surprised by the comments of the various councilmen, given the history of this project, I was baffled by Councilman Solon’s comments as she read from a script. As I watched the meeting on the city Web site – http://tinyurl.com/bscouncil – I observed Councilman Solon tracing each word in her statement with her finger as she stated her opposition to the proposal. You might ask, what is wrong with that? It shows that she is prepared when she comes to the meeting.

Councilman Solon has long been praised by some of her constituents for coming to meetings well prepared. However, Dan Lowe, president of RED Development, was so surprised by her misstatements that he reapproached the podium and said to her, “In my opinion your comments may be a bit half-baked and certainly aren’t on target.” He went on to outline point by point the inaccuracies she was using to justify her vote. Based on the information provided in the meeting, Mr. Lowe was right on target with his comments.

The concern in this situation, as I see it, is that by pre-determining her position and writing her statement before hearing the full presentation, Councilman Solon’s statement no longer reflected the facts, making her position on the issue look arbitrary. This is the kind of behavior that results in lawsuits and wastes taxpayer money, as recently occurred on the Parkway West project. This is not a new behavior with Councilman Solon, as misstatements and a failure to follow the city attorney’s advice almost resulted in her removal from the Planning Commission several years ago.

In the end, the calm voice of reason was Councilman Kent Edmondson. He did an excellent job of describing the risks and benefits that the council was considering, and showed that he carefully, and without prior prejudice, weighed risk versus reward. His thorough evaluation indicated that the benefits far outweighed the risks in considering this resolution. In the end the council made the right decision to keep the project moving forward.


Blue Springs City Council Mayor Pro Tempore election on April 20

clock April 19, 2009 11:58 by author Jeff Quibell

Jeff2007 The Blue Springs City Council will elect its Mayor Pro Tempore at the April 20 City Council Meeting.  The position of Mayor Pro Tempore is defined by the city charter as follows:

"The City Council shall elect annually from among its members a mayor pro tempore. The Mayor Pro Tempore shall assume the powers and duties of the Mayor during the absence or disability of the Mayor and, if a vacancy occurs, shall become Mayor until the next regular municipal election. The election shall occur in accordance with the election laws of the State of Missouri."

Time is short, contact your City Council members to give them your guidance as to who you believe should represent our city as Mayor Pro Tempore.  Contact information for your city council can be found at http://tinyurl.com/bscontact.

You can watch the council meeting starting at 6:30pm on Monday April 20, 2009 on Comcast Channel 7 or on the internet at http://tinyurl.com/bscouncil.


Up close on a shift with the police

clock April 17, 2009 11:45 by author Jeff Quibell

DSC04394 Public safety is an important part of the services that a city provides. In Blue Springs we are fortunate to have a great police department whose members care deeply about the safety of our citizens. Early in my service as a council member, the mayor suggested I participate in several ride-along opportunities to learn more about how our officers serve our community.

Riding with a police officer during a shift was an eye-opening experience. When we weren’t responding to calls, we were traveling through the neighborhoods looking for anything that was out of place or might indicate a problem.

Our first call for help came relatively quickly, a domestic violence complaint. When we arrived, with the officer’s permission, I stepped out of the car and immediately heard someone call out my name. One of the witnesses happened to be a customer of mine. Imagine my surprise that I would know someone at the scene of the incident. The officer handled the situation professionally and compassionately, and we returned to patrolling the neighborhoods. I was impressed with how many neighborhoods could be covered by a single officer on a shift.

The city now has a Citizens’ Police Academy that gives each of us the opportunity to learn more about our Police Department. Experiencing how they protect us will enable our citizens to be more effective in working with our police to prevent crime. Wanda and I have signed up for the next available academy class. There is a waiting list for September; if no spots open up, we will be participating next January.

At Mayor Ross’ urging, most of our City Council members have already participated or signed up for a class. I want to compliment Council Members Reed, Shaver, Lauer and Edmondson for responding to the mayor’s call to participate in the academy, as well as the mayor and his wife. Hopefully the remainder of the council will participate soon as well. Our police deserve the active involvement of our elected leaders. The Citizens Academy is a great way to show support, improve communication and increase understanding of the department’s needs in the future.

I would encourage each of you to participate in the academy as well.  By learning more about how our police department functions and provides protection for each of us, we can help them keep our city a safe place to live, work, and raise our families!


March with the Mayor and Future Walking events

clock April 6, 2009 21:50 by author Jeff Quibell

April 2009 Various 006

Blue Springs March with the Mayor!On April 3rd I had the pleasure to join Mayor Carson Ross and the Students of Daniel Young Elementary for the "March with the Mayor" fitness walk.  We had a great time and it worked well into the Blue Springs FIT effort to make Blue Springs the most fit city in the nation.

To continue the effort, a group of city employees that refer to themselves as "The Biggest Losers" will be starting a new series of walking opportunities called "WOW", for the Wednesday One O'clock Walkers.  Each week they will walk at 1:00pm and during the walk the participants will decide where the next walk will be.  This weeks' walk will be at Rotary Park walking around the lake.  Five times around the lake equals 2 miles!

Everyone is invited to join in every week.  Information about the walks is available on the city website at http://www.bluespringsgov.com/March.  Anyone interested can also call Sheryl Morgan at 655-0495 for more information.  Come join us for fun and fitness as we walk our way into being the fittest  city in the nation!


Tell Your Leaders What You Think

clock March 26, 2009 02:00 by author Jeff Quibell

DSC04405 I woke up Sunday morning to a beautiful day and decided to walk the wildlife habitat trail at Burr Oak Woods Conservation Area in Blue Springs. While exploring the trail, I noticed a sign near a rocky bluff that told how in April the foliage on the bluff would attract hummingbirds. Making a mental note, I plan to revisit that trail in April in hopes of seeing some of them.

The Heritage Philharmonic concert on Saturday evening was a joy to listen to, with Matthew Johnson of the Kansas City Symphony joining us. The audience was also treated to a surprise visit by Bryan Busby, as he delivered an autographed copy of a commemorative Len Dawson print to a member of the audience. As a member of the Philharmonic board, I extend my thanks to the hundreds of people from Eastern Jackson County who attended the concert.

We are very fortunate in Blue Springs to have great parks and a growing walking/bike trail system. Eastern Jackson County is blessed to have multiple outstanding symphonic orchestras, city theaters, and the list of arts organizations goes on and on. If you haven’t patronized one of these outstanding organizations, my hope is that you will consider attending their performances as a family. I guarantee you will not be disappointed. It is important to step out of our busy lives from time to time and enjoy the amenities that our communities offer.

I was reminded this week of the importance of engaging our elected officials in communication on issues that we as citizens feel are important. One of the blessings of living in a republic is that our elected officials are moderated by the rule of law and guided by their constituents. Each of us has a personal responsibility to communicate with our elected officials and share our vision with them.

While there will always be differing views on how to achieve the public vision, one thing is certain. Our elected officials should look toward the future and not dwell on the issues of the past. As with any organization, once a decision is made, it is incumbent upon the leadership to move forward with that decision, regardless of which way they voted on the issue.

Mayor Ross encouraged the City Council last week to leave the recent divisive issues behind. I applaud him for that, and add my voice to that sentiment. Now is the time for the council to again look toward the future and plan how our city will accomplish the public vision.

You can follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/JeffQuibell. To find me on Facebook, just search for Jeff Quibell. My blog, www.AboutBlueSprings.com follows what is happening in Blue Springs.


City Leaders Need to Review and Plan

clock March 12, 2009 17:32 by author Jeff Quibell

I remember the first trip I took on behalf of the city after I was elected to represent District 1 in Blue Springs. The trip was to attend a National League of Cities conference in Charlotte North Carolina.

During my time in office I had the privilege to attend numerous educational seminars designed to help a city councilman understand issues facing communities all over the United States. Attending these continuing education seminars eventually lead to the honor of receiving a Bronze Leadership Fellow award from the NLC. These training opportunities are vital to the continuing education of our City Council, giving each of them the tools to make better decisions on behalf of their constituents.

I was pleased to hear that the City Council recently held a strategic planning retreat at the Elms Resort & Spa in Excelsior Springs Missouri. I read The Examiner’s editorial that delivered some criticism for the cost of the retreat, but I disagree. I would remind them that the entire council attended this planning session, and in light of all of the talk of being fiscally conservative from certain councilmen, I’m certain this junket was necessary. I commend all of the council in making strategic planning a priority.

It has been years since our City Council has undertaken a serious strategic planning effort, and I compliment Mayor Carson Ross for having the wisdom to undertake such a venture on behalf of our citizens. Combined with the promised review of the Comprehensive Plan, the city will soon be positioned to provide much needed guidance to the development community on their plans for the further development of our city.

According to The Examiner’s article about the meeting, the council spent 15 hours in discussion during the retreat. I share the desire of many of our citizens to hear and read the public report of progress and planning that occurred at this important meeting. I look forward to the presentation of the results at a future council meeting, which we can all watch on Comcast Channel 7 or download from the City Web site at www.BlueSpringsGov.com.

Don’t forget, this Saturday is the Community Pancake Breakfast at the Steamin’ Bean. Wanda and I are looking forward to seeing our friends and neighbors as well as some current and former elected officials at this event. 

Tickets are available for purchase in advance on-line at www.AboutBlueSprings.com or just come join us from 8 a.m. until 11 a.m.