Downtown, parks, quality of life

Lee's Summit JournalNovember 20, 2013 

I had a handful of readers ask me recently about some of the negative tones coming out around Lee’s Summit lately in regards to city projects, economic development or just life in general.

One even inferred that I had taken a turn toward the potentially pessimistic.

I pointed out, of course, that it’s not my position to be permanently positive. My columns are meant to invoke thought, entertain, enlighten or even begin necessary conversations around our community.

But, as we roll into budget season, talks of cuts around city hall and other areas and continue to work and educate voters as we head into election season, I did take some time over the weekend to think about, and even ask people, what makes Lee’s Summit livable or enjoyable.

We have a state- and nationally-recognized downtown, first and foremost.

Indeed, this "heart" of Lee’s Summit – for which I am a proud president of its nonprofit board of directors – continues to impress many.

Our quality of life can be seen in the lifeblood of this community – its downtown area.

Locally owned businesses, a thriving volunteer base, active and engaged promotions and events that draw hundreds of thousands to our core each year – these are all core principles of a successful downtown, which, in our case, is a byproduct of many years of care and concentration by board members, volunteers and city leaders that came before us.

Looking around at our parks and recreation department, a similar sense of "where we’ve been and where we’re heading" is highly evident.

If you haven’t been over to the new Lea McKeighan Park at Chipman and Douglas streets, prepare to be amazed.

Under watchful and involved guidance of both paid staff and the park board, our parks and recreation leaders have successfully repurposed an area into a one-stop recreation shop of fun, play, exercise and green space.

When you couple that with a plethora of neighborhood parks, Legacy (aka the Taj Mahal) and a continuing commitment by this department to address community health and wellness, and you find another component of our bigger picture to be positive about.

Sure, we have issues that have lingered and languished way too long in Lee’s Summit – the expansion of the airport, Arnold Hall and others – but we cannot succumb to what is usually the minority of residents that find fantastic fault with everything and nearly everyone in this city.

More than anything, you want to challenge those people to become a part of the solution, get involved, join a committee or volunteer group and make real change.

Then, we can truly see if this negative contingent is truly looking for a larger voice in town or they simply like to bluster and complain.

To them – and the far-too-large group of simply uninvolved citizens – I would challenge you: look around, find something constructive to focus on and be an activist.

Because really, there is a lot of good going on in Lee’s Summit.


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

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