Parents push for change in North Kansas City neighborhood deemed unsafe for kids to walk to school

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Students at one North Kansas City elementary school can't walk to school because it's so dangerous.

Now, parents are working to change that with what they say is a simple solution.

Alisha Turner lives less than a quarter-mile away from Maplewood Elementary. When she first moved to the neighborhood, she assumed her family would walk her six year old daughter to school.

"I enrolled her in school and I said we're going to be walkers, we're real close. They said no we can't do that. It's either car rider or bus rider," explained Turner.

Turner said the district cancels "National Walk to School Day" every year because of safety concerns. She quickly realized why.

"[My daughter] wakes up almost every morning and says, 'Mommy, can we walk to school?' And I try, we've maybe walked to school a dozen times this school year but with two little kids it's very nerve-wracking," said Turner.

The road in front of the school has a hill, so a car driving toward the crosswalk and a child walking in the street wouldn't see each other until they were less than 100 yards apart.

Now, Turner and other community members hope the city lets them use money left over from a tax increment financing. There's at least a $1 million surplus from the Searcy Creek TIF. Parents said a sidewalk would solve several problems.

"When it's time for kids to be picked up, the traffic is so backed up and the streets are so narrow. If we had sidewalks it could eliminate the dangers," said community organizer Gaston Woodland.

A 2002 study of the neighborhood found the addition of a sidewalk on 52nd Street would cost less than $100,000 to build.

"To me, to make 350 children and their family safe and the community, that's small to me," said Turner.

Woodland went to the TIF Commission meeting Wednesday with the proposal for funds. Now, the city council will decide how to allocate that money.

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