Woman wants day in court to stop downtown streetcar line

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - A Kansas City, Mo., woman told a court Tuesday she wants to have her chance to stop the new downtown streetcar line.

If the Missouri Court of Appeals sides with her, Kansas City's new streetcar line could come to an abrupt halt.

It is why Sue Burke, a downtown Kansas City business owner, describes herself as "the woman who nobody likes or, at least, the people in favor of the streetcar."

Burke, the owner of the Kansas City Air Filter Company, said she is upset she now must charge her customers a one cent sales tax to pay for the $100 million project.

The line is supposed to run from Crown Center to the River Market. Plans, like selecting the streetcars, are already in motion.

But Burke insists the city never gave her enough notice to fight the streetcar plan or gave business owners a chance to vote on it.

She and a fellow plaintiff, Jeffery "Stretch" Rumaner,  the owner of the popular downtown Grinders restaurant, said they want their day in court.

"I am trying to stop their pet project," Burke said.

Her appeal got the attention of Mayor Sly James Tuesday morning, who has been a major supporter of the streetcar line. 

The line will run from Crown Center to the River Market area.

"It's time," Mayor James said, "for us to move forward and do what every other major city our size has done. It's important for us to move into the 21st century."

The attorney representing Kansas City argued to the appeals judges that the deadline for Burke's challenge had passed and that the voters, who live downtown, have spoken.

Mayor James said Burke's appeals have already slowed down the process to build the streetcar line. He said it is a mode of transportation that will drive downtown's economy forward, appealing to young people who want to work and live there.

If the court rejects her appeal, Burke could appeal to the Missouri Supreme Court. The city said it would further stall the streetcar plans and force the city to spend tax money its not really sure it will have in the end.
A decision is expected in the next few weeks.

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