News about what is happening in Blue Springs, MO

City Looking At A Year Of Progress

clock January 4, 2012 10:06 by author Jeff Quibell

2011-12-08 10-40-58.261The changing of the calendar to a new year is typically seen as a time for fresh starts and new beginnings.

For Blue Springs, 2012 will be the year in which we see visible progress on the Missouri Innovation Park on Adams Dairy Parkway. As the University of Missouri prepares to break ground at its permanent location in Blue Springs, its involvement and commitment will raise the visibility and viability of MIP to the world’s animal-health-related companies, along with other entities and organizations.

It will take time, but we anticipate the demand for locations within the MIP will result in new, high-quality jobs for Blue Springs residents and those in the surrounding areas.

This year will also see the installation of the new digital radio system for our Police Department. This system, paid for by the public safety tax that Blue Springs voters approved last year, will substantially improve our Police Department’s communication ability and will help make our city safer. The improvements to the public safety building will enhance downtown and provide an improved workplace for our police officers.

Hopefully, 2012 will see progress on the regional transit proposal, which could bring even more activity to our downtown in the coming years.

The redevelopment of Woods Chapel Road continues, and residents will see utilities relocated this spring in preparation for the widening and resurfacing from Duncan Road on the north all the way south to Walnut Street. Right-of-way acquisition is under way, and we should see work on the road begin this year, with scheduled completion scheduled for 2013. The new diverging diamond interchange at Interstate 70 will improve the flow of traffic, especially during rush hour, and the signalized intersection at Duncan Road will make that area safer and less congested.

I would also like to take this opportunity to express my sincerest appreciation for the many cards, notes, copies of the newspaper and kind words regarding the story of the Christmas ornaments from my birth mother. To Martin Augustine of KMBC Channel 9 News and Lee Hill Kavanaugh of The Kansas City Star, thank you for telling the story in such a wonderful and compassionate manner. The response has been overwhelming and very much appreciated. For those who missed the stories, they can be viewed at http://bit.ly/QuibellOrnaments and http://bit.ly/AnnChristmas.
Happy new year, everyone! I look forward to another year of sharing with you all of the great things happening in Blue Springs!


Council Handled Project Respectfully

clock October 27, 2010 09:31 by author Jeff Quibell

JeffQuibell201002 One of the most important tasks of a councilman is to weigh the evidence and to evaluate how each project fits the city’s plan. The City Council recently considered and approved a change to a controversial project, Parkway Estates, a housing development originally approved when I was on the council in 2006. As I watched the meeting, I experienced a bit of a déjà vu moment, as many of the same citizens were present to express their opposition to the changes requested by the landowner.


I was proud of the entire council for the respectful manner in which they addressed the developer’s request and the citizen’s concerns. The council members invested significant time studying the issues and history surrounding this development, as well as listening and considering the points of view of the neighbors and constituents throughout the city.


Evaluating a change to an existing development requires familiarity with the city’s comprehensive plan as well as the many development ordinances. It was clear from the meeting that our councilmen did their homework. As each councilman spoke of his reasons for voting either for or against the request, their commitment to their position and to the integrity of their oath of office was apparent. Each drew from their own experience and evaluated the developer’s request based on what they believe is best for the City of Blue Springs, and I applaud their honesty and dedication.


A friend who has lived in Blue Springs longer than I have shared that when the Timber Oaks subdivision was completed, the developer came to the city for approval of an additional street, with the intent of building smaller patio homes. He stated that the neighbors came out in force, concerned that the new smaller homes would destroy property values, along with a variety of negative arguments to attempt to stop the project. Ultimately that project was approved and built. Today you would never know it was a separate project. These well-kept homes have been an excellent addition to the area, adding another choice of homes for buyers.


The Parkway Estates project will bring quality homes to the city that fit the plan for the area. While the neighbors did not get all they asked for, their input into the process was vital to improving the quality of the resulting proposed project. Citizens with concerns should always participate in the process of project review. That is the purpose of public hearings. In the end, the council effectively evaluated the project and achieved a fair conclusion to the process. Watch the meeting at http://bit.ly/cc20101018.


We are blessed to have a diverse and dedicated council in Blue Springs. One of them, Jeanie Lauer, has chosen to seek the office of State Representative in District 54. Jeanie has proven her leadership during her time on the council and will be a great advocate for our city and the other cities in District 54. I encourage each of you to remember to vote on November 2, and if you live in District 54, to cast your ballot for Jeanie Lauer.


In office, it’s actions that matter

clock July 28, 2010 09:33 by author Jeff Quibell

JeffQuibell201002 Once again, it’s election time, as you can tell by the proliferation of political signs, letters to the editor, and junk mailings filling up our mail boxes. There are politicians who say they represent our interests, politicians who say they aren’t politicians, and opinion column writers, current and former politicians. How do we weed out the facts from the spin and make good decisions in selecting our next leaders? It’s difficult if not impossible to effectively verify the statements made by politicians in a timely manner. We often believe what we read or hear, especially if we know or trust the source.

As I read the letters to the editor and added my own comments to several, it occurred to me that those letters have been written with the best of intentions, usually to help friends with their efforts to win an election. Letters of support to express our own individual opinion of the person, not necessarily that the person we are supporting will in the end vote the way we think they should. Our elected officials surprise us at times with their comments, and their votes not always in sync.

So how do we as voters figure out whom to cast our vote for? Whom do we believe? The answer is simple and hard at the same time. We should make every effort to learn more about the people we are supporting, and we should dig more deeply than just our personal relationship with that person. Friendship is one thing; voting is another.

I really wasn’t surprised when I read Ron Fowler’s letter to the editor supporting Sheila Solon, as they are longtime political friends with similar positions on local issues. Ron wrote about how Sheila voted against multi-family housing complexes. What he didn’t mention is that she votes for them as well. Right or wrong, she is inconsistent on this issue. Once in February 2003 she voted to put multi-family zoning on Adams Dairy Parkway and twice that I recall in 2007 while I was on the council serving with her.

Ron also talks about Sheila voting against sales taxes. Those votes were actually against the new retail development on Adams Dairy Parkway. The next time you sit down for dinner at Olive Garden or shop at Target or Gordman’s, consider that she fought hard to stop Adams Dairy Landing from coming to town. Just before she left city office, she worked very hard to scale back Missouri Innovation Park from its original 500 acres to just 100 acres. Her actions would have restricted job growth in Blue Springs at a time when we need more high-quality jobs. Again, she is inconsistent after making “real jobs” a focal point of her council campaign.

Former Councilman Solon, as pointed out by Mayor Ross in a recent article, was very ineffective as an elected official while on the City Council. I expect it would be no different in Jefferson City. Fortunately, the voters have a choice on Aug. 3. I would recommended giving strong consideration to Mike Parker. I’ve spent some time getting to know him and believe that he will best represent the interests of his constituents and will be an effective leader.


Innovation Park plans advancing

clock January 13, 2010 10:50 by author Jeff Quibell

JeffQ Photo There is a lot of talk around town regarding the Missouri Innovation Park, a development that is sure to change the face of the future of Blue Springs. A “Show Me” attitude is part of the culture in Missouri, and some need to see dirt moving and buildings under construction to truly believe that the Innovation Park, bringing with it the desired growth of quality jobs, is a reality.

Community leaders in Blue Springs laid a path many years ago, putting in place the key components to support the development of the Innovation Park by establishing the vision for Adams Dairy Parkway. As that vision has evolved, we have seen the addition of retail and restaurants, which add another component necessary to the realization of the original vision for Adams Dairy Parkway.

Two and a half years ago, as the first details regarding the park began to emerge, Blue Springs Economic Development Corporation President Brien Starner and I had long conversations about the potential the park brought to our community. It was clear that the stars were aligning for success. A project of this type normally takes, on average, approximately five years to develop the support of all the various organizations necessary for success.

In this instance, the Missouri Innovation Park has the support of the City of Blue Springs, the University of Missouri, the Blue Springs School District, the Central Jackson Country Fire Protection District, the Blue Springs Economic Development Corp., the Blue Springs Chamber of Commerce, the Missouri Department of Economic Development, the Kansas City Area Development Council, Jackson County, the Mid-Continent Public Library system, and many other entities in the region and state in just two short years.

This support by so many public and private organizations is vital to the success of the project and is a direct result of the passion and commitment of current and past mayors and councils, Brien Starner, and the Blue Springs Economic Development Corporation members.
Despite the current national economy, the project has continued to move forward. New legislation, referred to as “Jobs for the Future,” has been filed and would enable projects like the Missouri in Innovation Park not only for Blue Springs, but also for progressive communities all over Missouri. This legislation would allow cities more control over their own economic destiny, with the intent of attracting high-quality public and private jobs.

Our city now stands at a precipice of key decisions and actions. As citizens, we need to join with our elected leaders and the leaders of these supporting organizations to see the fulfillment of this vision for our city. In the coming weeks there will be announcements that will show visible progress and the beginning of construction of the Mizzou Innovation Center which will anchor the project and provide the intellectual property that will spur the creation of high-tech jobs in the park. The possibilities are endless, and I am excited to see this vision come to fruition.


City needs to address sign issue

clock September 9, 2009 17:23 by author Jeff Quibell

DSC04409 As you drive through Blue Springs, there continue to be signs of development. The first phase of Adams Dairy Landing is preparing to open Oct. 11. The McDonald’s that has stood on Missouri 7 for more than 36 years has been demolished and will be rebuilt. The shopping center on Woods Chapel is getting a long needed facelift. The first tenant is getting ready to open in the Southridge Shopping Center. Virtually every part of our city is seeing some kind of development.

Still, much work remains to be done to keep our city moving forward. In a work session last week, the City Council began considering changes to our sign code. This important part of our development code is involved in managing how businesses in our city make us aware they are here and open for business.

During my time in office I heard from many business owners who felt our sign code is too restrictive. If you watch our Planning Commission meetings you will see that time and time again business owners run into obstacles that keep them from getting the signs they want and need to advertise.

The codes are strict to help improve the appearance of our business corridors. Yet if they are too strict, businesses can’t get the signs they need. Parkside Books, behind Einstein Bros. on M-7, is a prime example. Our codes keep them from placing a sign near the highway to let customers know they are there. They have been working with the city for several years to find a way to make their business more visible to no avail.

McDonald’s on M-7 had to limit the length of time for the reconstruction of its store to keep its signature golden arches, which don’t meet our current sign code requirements. Panera Bread had to get special permission for its highway-facing signage because it didn’t meet the requirements of our current sign code. These are just a few examples.

My encouragement to our mayor and council is to listen to the needs of our existing and new businesses and find creative ways to make our city more inviting to the businesses we want and need. I am confident the sign code can be modified to accommodate those needs while keeping our business districts attractive. Be sure to speak with your councilmen and give them your guidance on this important issue for our city!


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 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.


An Open Letter to All Blue Springs Residents

clock January 30, 2009 15:31 by author Jeff Quibell

I recently received the following letter from the developer of Parkway Place.  It is addressed to the residents of Blue Springs and I provide it here for your viewing.

LtrtoCitizensconcerningParkwayPlaceandParkwayWest.pdf (8.44 mb)

To contact your Mayor and City Council please click on the following link:

http://www.aboutbluesprings.com/page/City-Council-Contact-Info.aspx

The text of the letter follows:

January 27, 2009

To: All Blue Springs Residents

Re: Parkway Place and Parkway West

As many of you may know, Adams Dairy Investors, LLC has been working with the City

of Blue Springs for over 15 months to bring a much needed office and retail development to the More...


Planning Commission Meeting Canceled

clock January 26, 2009 15:11 by author Jeff Quibell

Meeting Cancellation Notice from Blue Springs City Clerk More...