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Hyde Park residents reminiscence on Westport Middle, High School closure

PHOTOS: Look inside vacant former Westport High School building
PHOTOS: Look inside vacant former Westport High School building
Posted at 8:27 AM, Oct 27, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-27 12:28:28-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Twelve years ago, Westport High School closed. One year later, its counterpart, Westport Middle School also closed.

Both were vacant for a few years, until Plexpod came to the middle school, and the announcement of new apartments in the high school.

Vacant buildings and less hustle and bustle might become a reality for other areas around Kansas City.

The debate around KCPS's Blueprint 2030 plan continues and with it comes the idea of more public school closures.

"We never had any problems," said April Bier, a Hyde Park resident.

Bier has lived in the area for 20 years, and remembers what it was like to see the schools close.

Related: Debate over KCPS Blueprint 2030 plan continues at Central High School

Bier moved her family to Hyde Park not just because of the area, but the community, and liked the fact that her daughter could walk to school.

That's something she's sad to hear other kids, and those at Westport, don't have the opportunity to do.

"That’s one thing that when you move to a new neighborhood you look for," she said. "School makes more of it a community. I mean, when there’s a school in the neighborhood it makes it more of a community."

But it's not all bad. Bier said she was happy to see something else go into the middle school. It was worn down for so long, that when Plexpod came in to clean it up, it was a relief.

Related: Tensions run high at meeting discussing Kansas City Public Schools' Blueprint 2030 plan

"How many schools are they gonna close down now?" Ana Smith said.

Smith went to Westport High School from 2002 to 2005. She now works around the area, and drives by her alma mater every day.

She said she wasn't shocked to hear her school was closing, since it's something that happens routinely.

"People go to school, they have kids, and you like them to go to your school, you know, that you used to go to," Smith said.

And even to people who haven't lived in the area for long, it's still making a daily impact.

"Right after they closed the school, they put it on sale, so that was like a big shock for the community," Alejandra Bilsa-Brown said.

She's catty-corner from the high school for a year-and-a-half. She said there used to be a dog park at the high school where people could come together and hang out, but construction took that away.

"It can be good in certain ways but, not for families, you know," Bilsa-Brown said. "Everybody really wanted that space."

Her thoughts and feelings correlate with others in the community, and could soon be a reality for other neighborhoods in Kansas City.