Time to move the game

Kansas City StarSeptember 18, 2013 

I remember as a kid having a pick-up game of basketball interrupted.

Nothing was more annoying at the time.

Eight or 10 of us would be having a perfectly good round of hoops going and the bullies would infiltrate the court – whether it was the skateboard crowd, the non-athletes that didn’t like the (perceived) athletes or just the straight out bad guys, the ones that would pick up the basketball and boot it as far away as possible – sometimes we were forced to change the location of our game.

And we didn’t mind. When that location was overrun by unreasonable people, we would simply find another basketball court and pick up where we left off.

That may be where we are at as a city with our land deal for a new outdoor performance space that was overwhelmingly approved by voters this past April.

The city and land owner Dusty Dahmer – a former city council candidate himself – are locked in some odd game of chess where the rooks and knights and whatever just keep moving in circles. There appears to be no end to this chess game. And what should have been a checkmate to lock up a land deal is now just a stalemate.

So, it’s time to move the game.

While Dahmer’s land near SW Market and SW Main street on the west side of the railroad tracks seems an ideal place to build this project, negotiations have been going downhill for quite some time.

And, in the end, legal issues, land disputes and the ever-lovin’ dollar make this whole scenario less than ideal.

So, it’s time to move the game.

There are discussions underway right now with folks at City Hall and members of our City Council about where else we might build this outdoor performance space, what that land may cost us and what that affords us to build.

Those talks run parallel with maintaining the integrity of the election where almost 80 percent of voters said "yes" to a specific project in a specific area. Of course, those voters could never have envisioned that the land deal wasn’t already a done deal.

So, it’s time to move the game.

Our vision for downtown Lee’s Summit, the historical museum, open art space, music and all that would come with a performance area are bigger revelations than any financial battle between the city and a local businessman.

We can wag our finger at both parties for not sealing this deal, at certain members of our council for not having this in place before the vote and even for our city leadership for not shoring this up before it went public.

And then, we need to move past that. And move the game somewhere else.


John Beaudoin is the publisher of the Lee’s Summit Journal. To comment, call 816-282-7001 or e-mail jbeaudoin@lsjournal.com.

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