News about what is happening in Blue Springs, MO

Welcome work along Woods Chapel

clock June 3, 2009 22:18 by author Jeff Quibell

In words from the old “The A-Team” on television, “I love it when a plan comes together!”

While that dates me to some extent, it characterizes what I see happening all around us in Blue Springs. Our most recent citizens’ survey showed an acceleration of the positive way our residents are viewing the changes made to our city by our elected leaders in recent years. Mayor Ross is leading a positive charge toward the future that transcends the current down economy and shows that there are more great things to look forward to in Blue Springs.

In the last few weeks our City Council has approved additional funding to ensure the success of the Missouri Innovation Park. As many know, this project stands to bring thousands of high-paying jobs to our city. The influx of new development and employees will likely rekindle development in the southern part of the city and encourage redevelopment of the many vacant properties near Missouri 7 and U.S. 40.

On Monday, the City Council approved changes to the Oaks at Woods Chapel planned unit development. This exciting development may finally bring a grocery store to the Woods Chapel corridor. In combination with the recently approved street bond issue, Woods Chapel will receive much-needed traffic improvements in the very near future.
The council also approved the early issuance of some of the bonds for Adams Dairy Landing, once again over the objections of District 3 Councilmen Ron Fowler and Sheila Solon. If you have the opportunity, watch the council meeting at http://tinyurl.com/bsc090601.

The debate was fascinating. One of the exciting things discussed was how the latest revenue estimates for the project have grown. If this comes to fruition, the bonds could be paid off earlier than originally anticipated and the cost to our taxpayers would be reduced. Now that is fiscally responsible!


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!


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.


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.


Exciting days ahead for Blue Springs

clock March 5, 2009 01:01 by author Jeff Quibell

DSC04409 I remember how I felt the first time I heard the city was building Adams Dairy Parkway. It was exciting to learn that the future of our city would include businesses with high-paying jobs that would allow our citizens to work, live and play in our own city. I could see the positive impact that this development would have for all of us in Blue Springs.

When I joined the City Council in 2005, I was excited about the prospect of helping realize that vision. The job required identifying existing obstacles and proposing solutions to move development forward and create an environment that would raise interest in this special asset that our city had created. To realize the vision that was Adams Dairy Parkway, we had to focus the City Council’s diverse interests and bring consensus to our goals.

Last week I attended the Blue Springs Economic Development Corporation quarterly luncheon. Brian Foster, provost of the University of Missouri-Columbia, was the keynote speaker. He talked about the plans the university has for the Missouri Innovation Park and painted a picture of how the park will be developed. The park will be a place where doctoral students can interact with cutting-edge research facilities to solve the questions of human and animal health and promote the field of life sciences.

The crowd sensed the excitement that the convergence of high-quality research surrounding the life sciences will bring to our community, the region and our state. Looking forward to thousands of new, high-paying jobs and their economic benefit cemented the feeling that we were now taking the right steps to bring prosperity to our community.

I congratulate Mayor Carson Ross for the active role he has played in bringing the Missouri Innovation Park plans together, and I urge all members of the council to be aware of the possible ramifications of their actions as they evaluate projects in and around this growing area. National developers and employers are already seeking information about this project, and it’s important that our city council representatives fully understand the project. I was encouraged to see that Councilmen Lauer, Edmondson, Reed and Shaver attended the luncheon to hear and experience first-hand the excitement surrounding this unique opportunity.

Today, as you drive Adams Dairy Parkway, the promise of progress surrounds you. The excitement of seeing our investment in the parkway finally realized brings a sense of accomplishment, as we look to the bright future that will include the Missouri Innovation Park in our community.

Our state Senate is considering legislation to help fund this project. Please contact Senator Matt Bartle at 573-751-1464 to encourage his support of the Missouri Innovation Park provisions of this important legislation.


Blue Springs sees new opportunities

clock February 26, 2009 00:58 by author Jeff Quibell

I would like to compliment Mayor Ross and Council members Lauer, Edmondson, & Reed on their continued support of positive progress in our city. It is encouraging to see that a majority of our elected leaders have a vision for our future and are working together to help overcome the challenges that the current economic situation entails. Many people have worked diligently for years to improve all areas of our city, and I am excited and optimistic about the future of Blue Springs.

clip_image002Development of new restaurant opportunities continues to move forward. The planning commission reviewed and recommended approval of the site plan design for the new Panara Bread that will open soon in Coronado Place. RED Development continues to move forward with the Adams Dairy Landing development, bringing minor changes to the restaurant/retail section of their development between I-70 and Coronado Drive to the commission for approval.

Other restaurants that have recently opened in Blue Springs include Harley HotRods Bar & Grill on north MO-7, Colorado Pete’s BBQ on Hwy 40 and Miyabi Japanese Steakhouse & Sushi Bar in the Mall at Fall Creek. I recently spoke with the owner of Side Pockets and he expressed excitement that the Mall at Fall Creek is now fully leased, with the addition of Club 7 Fitness as the final anchor location in the Mall.

With so much happening in our city we should all be encouraged that perhaps the worst of the recession will pass by us. That is not to say that there won’t be challenges, but by pulling together and continuing to patronize our area businesses, we can weather the storm and find ways to prosper. I believe that our city is facing a much brighter financial picture than most municipalities in our country.

My wife Wanda and I are hosting a community “All You Can Eat” pancake breakfast on Saturday March 14, from 8am to 11am to celebrate progress in our community and raise funds to support the www.AboutBlueSprings.com website. The Steamin’ Bean has graciously agreed to allow us to have the breakfast in their coffee shop. I hope you will come join us and bring your neighbors for a festive celebration of all that is good in Blue Springs! Tickets are $6 at the door and $5 in advance. Check the website for details about advance ticket purchases.


New Businesses for The Mall at Fall Creek!

clock February 19, 2009 19:41 by author Jeff Quibell

For over a decade our citizens have waited for The Mall at Fall Creek to fill with businesses.  Recently a Japanese Steakhouse & Sushi Bar named Miyabi opened in the mall.  Wanda and I have had dinner there several times and would recommend it as a great place to dine.  I would encourage you to visit them and thank the owners for bringing their business to our city.

Yesterday, when having lunch at Miyabi, I noticed that the doors to the main anchor space in the mall were open and there was construction work going on inside.  Club 7 Fitness is opening a second Blue Springs location in this 43,000 square foot space in the mall.  They plan on opening sometime this spring.  At last, the mall will be full of businesses and can take its place as a thriving participant in our city's economy!


Keep progress going in Blue Springs

clock February 12, 2009 01:01 by author Jeff Quibell

25th Anniversary Vacation 084  25th Anniversary Vacation 014From the Library Lounge in the Inn at Biltmore Estate, Wanda and I enjoyed a beautiful sunset over the Blue Ridge Mountains Sunday evening. We spent two days exploring our nation’s largest single family residence, built in 1895 by George Vanderbilt. The Biltmore is 175,000 square feet of pure luxury, built on what was originally 125,000 acres of managed forest land.

As we toured the Biltmore and the grounds, I was struck by the effect that a single significant development can have on a region. When the Biltmore was constructed in the late 1800s, it created thousands of jobs in the Asheville, N.C., area, and 114 years later, it continues to provide employment for up to 1,800 employees, working throughout the year to keep the estate open and accessible to the public as a national historic landmark.

When George Vanderbilt constructed his home, he had no way of knowing that more than 100 years later, his home would continue to provide employment to so many people. The Missouri Innovation Park will create significant job opportunities in Blue Springs and will impact the economic environment in the surrounding area well into the next century. 

I have heard Brien Starner, director of the Blue Springs Economic Development Corporation, say many times, “a rising tide raises all boats.”

This is the foundation of the impact of positive growth on an entire community. As I visited with my barber recently about the Innovation Park, we discussed what it meant for him and for others in the community like him, residents and business owners alike. We discussed the impact of at least 3,000 more people in Blue Springs, people who will need homes to live in, restaurants to dine in, and retail opportunities to shop for products and services. The rising tide can mean the revitalization of downtown and an increased interest in redevelopment at U.S. 40 and Missouri 7.

To keep Blue Springs on the forefront of progress and economic recovery, the entire City Council will need to put aside personal differences, think outside the box and look for ways to work together. I know that each member of our council wants what they believe is best for Blue Springs. Now is the time for our councilmen to be flexible and to accommodate the future needs of the Innovation Park development and current and future residents of Blue Springs.

Our elected leaders are facing the need to build a new city hall, a mandated new communication system for our Police Department and maintaining our aging pool complex. This council needs to carefully consider how their decisions affect the growing needs of our city, and anticipate the growth as we prepare today for a brighter future tomorrow.

To see pictures from my visit to the Biltmore please look me up on facebook.com at http://www.facebook.com/people/Jeff-Quibell/1405337531 and invite me to be on your friend list.