COMMENTARYCOMMENTARY

Lee’s Summit’s southern gateway at MO 291 S/MO 50 gets needed attention by City Council and MoDOT

August 16, 2013 

On Aug. 1, City Council voted “yes” to authorize City staff to help develop innovative financing alternatives for the Missouri Department of Transportation’s improvements to the U.S. 50/M-291 interchange. Their vote is a step in the right direction. This vital intersection, which is outdated, frequently congested, and a safety hazard, if improved for anticipated development and use, could serve as Lee’s Summit’s Southern Gateway. It would bring those people heading northbound into our downtown, and would serve as a southbound gateway to further company locations and expansions on developable land all the way to the newly improved M-150.

Lack of state funding has moved this interchange project to MoDOT’s back seat. It is not their fault. MoDOT has partnered with the City previously to construct interchanges to the north, with the City creating TIFs to generate net new taxes from the new shopping centers’ retail sales taxes. Every day our community benefits from these partially-TIF-funded interchange improvements in the northern parts of our community: I-470 and M-350; I-470 and Blue Parkway; and I-470 and Pryor Road; Strother Road and I-470. Unfortunately, there is no corresponding retail demand to generate large TIF dollars at U.S. 50-291, not to mention M-291 north/U.S. 50 and U.S. 50/Third Street.

We believe the community understands these locations require redevelopment, but they do not represent greenfield opportunities which often generate the required net new fund dollars to provide much-needed public services. Our elected officials acknowledge that Lee’s Summit not only has greenfield needs, but redevelopment needs, which require new, bold, innovative solutions to repair outdated infrastructure. Unfortunately, redevelopment of existing infrastructure is more complicated, can be more expensive, and has fewer net new revenue sources to finance those improvements. That is why the City Council’s direction to staff (to present financing alternatives), is so welcome.

The LSGBA consists of executives and/or owners from over 20 Lee’s Summit economic-driver companies. Collectively, we employ over 3,000 people, many of whom must deal with the congestion at the Hwy 50/MO 291 interchange daily. The U.S. 50/M-291 interchange was one of the primary causes behind the creation of the LSGBA over 7 years ago. We have patiently but persistently waited to get to this point and are pleased to assist in bringing these improvements to fruition. The LSGBA is staffed by the Lee’s Summit Economic Development Council, and our community partners join us in support of these interchange improvements. Our partners include the Lee’s Summit Chamber of Commerce, Downtown Lee’s Summit Main Street, R-7 Schools, Summit Christian Academy, and University of Central Missouri.

This collaboration between the City, MoDOT, LSGBA, and our incredible members, represents the spirit of community that makes Lee’s Summit unique. By working together, we will reinforce Lee’s Summit’s brand identity as a place where history converges with vision and energy to create a smart, friendly business environment that delivers on the promise of a community where anything is possible.

Will Coates is CEO and President of Billy Goat Industries, Inc., a Lee’s Summit-headquartered manufacturer located on the west side of MO 291 south. For the past 45 years Billy Goat has designed and manufactured premium lawn and garden and cleaning equipment for sale worldwide. He is also chairman of the board of Summit Bank of Kansas City and co-chairs the Lee’s Summit Business Gateway. Chip Moxley is President of Tingle Flooring. Tingle is the Midwest’s premier wholesale floor covering distributor with offices in Lee’s Summit, St. Louis and Denver serving retail and commercial accounts in a seven-state region. Tingle has been covering the Midwest for over 65 years.

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