What happens to Arnold Hall now?

Lee's Summit JournalOctober 16, 2013 

The discussion and, sometimes, rhetoric regarding the new location for the downtown performance venue last week reached a fever pitch.

In fact, I think many of us are still feeling the effects of that fever.

It’s not a sickening feeling. Maybe a little nauseous, perhaps. Or like a lingering cold that just won’t subside.

But now we have a new bull’s eye in downtown Lee’s Summit – one that probably should have been on our radar from the beginning – and that’s Arnold Hall.

Much to the dismay of many building owners and business folks on the west side of the railroad tracks, the deal to bring the performance space passed on the April bond issue to their neighborhood is now dead. And it seems there is no traction to move that location to the parking lot next to the post office on Market Street.

So, Arnold Hall and the connected parking lot are the next best options.

There was recent talk about whether or not Arnold Hall would be “bulldozed” to make way for such a venue – a word that nearly makes some heads explode around Lee’s Summit.

While the plan for Arnold Hall is clearly still a work in progress, it is worth a conversation – a brief but meaningful one since these projects are on the clock now – as to what can and should happen to this historic building that was given to the city many decades ago.

A building that has seen the likes of Harry S. Truman; a building that housed our city council for many years; a building that has probably never fully delivered on its promise as a true civic or community center.

So what do we do with Arnold Hall?

While the city council and finance folks slice and dice the city budget to try and find $1.7 million in cuts, we need to be as judicious and cautious with our money as possible during this time.

Yes, the no-tax-increase bond was passed and this project will be funded, but doing the most now with this $600,000 allotment is paramount. If we don’t have to buy any land, and it appears we will not, we need to make every dollar count as we deliver on what was promised to the voters.

I have no idea if that means plunging Arnold Hall, merely knocking out a wall or keeping it fully intact.

But as those decisions are made, it is incumbent upon our city leaders that residents, voters and stakeholders are informed of every move at every turn.

 

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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