KANSAS CITY, Kan. — In the Rosedale neighborhood of KCK, where just across County Line Road you see well cared-for sidewalks, many residents have thought, 'What do I have to do for a piece of the pie?'
The commissioner for that district, Ann Brandau-Murguia, said the people have done what they needed to do.
"These people pay taxes just like anyone else does and they were willing to pay more. And even willing to pay more, they got ignored," said Brandau-Murguia.
In a July county budget meeting, Brandau-Murguia didn't mince words about a $10 million neighborhood improvement project in Rosedale that has been delayed for almost a decade.
"I'm not dropping this. I'm very angry about this," she told the commission and Unified Government staff.
The Rosedale area was supposed to become a benefit district, from Suntree Plaza to the east, up to I-35 in the north, to Puckett Road on the west and County Line Road to the south. Residents would agree to pay more in taxes to help fund a major overhaul of curb, sidewalk, and sewer.
Residents raised the issue in 2010, and in 2011 a group of neighbors went door-to-door and got the necessary petition signatures. It requires more than half of people to say "yes" within that benefit district.
In 2013, the project was budgeted as $400,000 for 2018.
In 2016, the UG spent $22,000 on a feasibility study and returned the results to the Rosedale Development Association.
In May 2017, consultants looked at design ideas.
The UG says they found the cost would be too much for the property owners because it would nearly double their yearly taxes. The process didn't go much further than that.
Murguia says the UG staff should have kept her informed when she asked about the delays throughout the years.
County Administrator Doug Bach said the UG should have communicated better.
The first step to a benefit district is the informal petition process, which is what residents accomplished in 2011. The feasibility study comes next. The UG will then inform the neighborhood of the feasibility study results and how much the government would pay versus how much residents would pay. Then a formal petition would be submitted to make way for a UG approval of a benefit district.
"Curbs and sidewalks, that would be huge for us," lifelong resident Juan Guzman said. "Just because there are a lot of people that walk their dog, they go running."
Mostly anyone around Rosedale will tell you how bad the streets are.
"It's been a while, but yeah, they're pretty rough," Guzman said.
Residents said because the streets are bad, it makes the neighborhood look bad, and people don't care. They said cars are constantly flying down the street, and they worry that a pedestrian will get hit.
Gloria Cisneros' family has lived in their house for 19 years.
"There's always people saying they're going to do something about a sidewalk, because it's very important, and nothing has happened at all," Cisneros said.
In a July 30th commission meeting, District 6 Commissioner Angela Markley, asked them why there were so many delays between 2013 and 2016.
"Looked like we put money in the budget but did nothing else for three years, and that seems to be where the problem occurred, right, because it got us all out of timeline with the petition," Markley said.
Brandon Grover with public works attributed that to staff shifts in the Public Works Department, "when not a lot of information was known to current staff."
Markley responded by saying, "That was a very diplomatic way of saying we dropped the ball. I get it. All I wanted to know."
Lots of families live in Rosedale with kids who go to nearby elementary schools, like T.A. Edison.
"We have an enormous amount of pedestrian traffic. Curb and sidewalk are essential to carry people to and from work. They can't do that here in a safe way," Brandau-Murguia said.
The UG is planning to go back to neighbors and ask again if they'd support the benefit district. They're also looking to see how they can reduce costs.