Westport businesses propose plan to privatize certain streets

Posted at 9:48 PM, Apr 14, 2017
and last updated 2017-04-14 23:12:29-04

Businesses in Westport want to take control of certain streets.

The bars and restaurants welcome customers in, but now they have a new plan to keep violence out.

"We decided over the winter that with the gun law forming we needed to take a better step in protecting ourselves," said Bill Nigro, a Westport business owner.

That's why the Westport Regional Business League, led by Kim Kimbrough, is asking the city for control over certain streets with a so-called "street vacation."

"You see this sort of thing which is really a private-public partnership in terms of maintaining the area, funding the security because the Kansas City Police Department has a lot of stuff to do and it can't just spend all of the resources at entertainment districts," Councilman Quinton Lucas of KCMO's Third District At-Large told 41 Action News. 

Under the proposal Westport would restrict access on the private streets every Friday and Saturday year-round from 11 p.m. to 4 a.m.

The private portion of Westport would begin at Archibald and Pennsylvania avenues to the south, 40th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue to the north, Westport Road and Broadway Avenue to the east and Westport Road and Mill Street to the west.

"It's a good idea because we have such a high volume of crowds over the weekends," said Amanda Lundgren, who lives in Westport.

Besides checking IDs, security would wand people to keep weapons out.

"This is just a step to have a little bit more authority to keep guns out of the area," Nigro said.

There is still a lot of discussion left before anything is set in stone. 

"The right of the public to come through, it will be very important. There are constitutional protections about who you can exclude and who you cannot and that's something that both the city lawyers but also the merchants association lawyers are going to think about," Lucas said.

He added there is a City Council resolution that suggests they should have a conversation about this but ultimately the city and Westport would need to enter a formal agreement.