KANSAS CITY, Mo. - A piece of Kansas City, Mo., history has turned into a battle against blight for one local business owner at 27th and Cleveland.
Steven Watson, co-owner of Metro Barber College, is working to keep the blight outside his walls from trashing his business.
That piece of Kansas City history sits under the intersection, and the problem can be seen on each of the four corners. Rusted gates and fences block off tunnel entrances that out of use for decades in front of Greenwood Elementary School. The school opened more than 100 years ago, and the tunnels were built under the intersection in the 1920s to give students a safe way to cross the busy streets.
Neighbors say students they used the tunnels until the 1980s. The school closed in the late 1990s.
"People were doing not-nice things down there. From the crime to the animals, to the decay," said Mona Moore, who used them as a child in the late 1960s.
Watson said he's seen rats and opossums come up from the tunnel entrances and into his business.
With critters running rampant, trash piling up, transients cutting their way in to the tunnels to sleep and rainwater flooding and attracting mosquitos, Watson has been calling the city's Action Center for more than ten years trying to get help.
"You know you get on them and they keep sending you through so many channels and nothing gets done,
Watson said. "What can you do?"
Watson said no one could tell him which city agency controlled the tunnels, from the city to the school district to public works.
Finally, after 41 Action News talked to Watson and made a few calls, city officials told us the public works department sent an inspector Friday afternoon and will be taking the issue to members of the city council.
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