Arnold Hall brings the negative

February 26, 2014 

No matter what happens to Arnold Hall in the coming months and years, one thing is for sure: Arnold Hall is the new airport.

Endless discussions on air traffic, safety, economic development and runways have been replaced on the council level with endless discussions of a different kind, namely who gets to claim the arts, political and other bounty of the Arnold Hall treasure if, and that’s a big if, we can get a plan in place.

If you missed last week’s city council meeting, you better grab a lawyer to translate the proceedings for you.

Councilmen Rob Binney and Allan Gray bantered back and forth as Binney phrased and rephrased questions to Gray, and Gray in turn simply read from a prepared document in response.

We gave the go-ahead to hire consultants to “help” with some sort of plan for Arnold Hall, which was interesting as many of those that voted yes to do so usually find such “consulting” to be egregious and not a good use of money.

Oh, and we rolled Arnold Hall into the bond issue that you, the voters, passed overwhelmingly last year.

Again, I will have to defer to the attorneys on this matter, but basically we said last week that despite not a mention of Arnold Hall on the ballot, we can (and seems like will) spend some of the $600,000 approved by the voters.

Here is the specific ballot language: Question No. 1: Shall the City of Lee’s Summit, Missouri, issue its general obligation bonds in the amount of $2,898,000 for the purpose of constructing and rehabilitating public improvements for cultural arts, including improvements to the Legacy Park Amphitheater, rehabilitating the historic downtown post office/city hall building, and creating a downtown outdoor performance and festival space?

Some of us that wanted to see Arnold Hall part of the bond issue a year ago had quite a bit to say once it was left out of this ballot. Who knew it was really in there the entire time?

Keep in mind that all the above happened with a simple request on the council agenda by the Lee’s Summit Arts Council to broaden the scope of their assignment to include Arnold Hall as well.

From that, the snowball just kept barreling down the hill.

Maybe some on the council know what Councilman Derek Holland alluded to, that none of this may matter anyway if we decide to open up Arnold Hall to public bid (the city council also voted in closed session last week to suspend the RFP for 60 days to give the LSAC time to put their plans together).

It seems to me there is more than enough talent for the LSAC to come up with some ideas for use for the outdoor space downtown – a space that Downtown Lee’s Summit Main Street is likely going to be managing.

More than one arts council member commented after the meeting about their preference to not bring in a consultant, either. It seems they feel, too, like they have the tools and the talent to do the project that was asked of them and then bogged down in confusion from November.

I’m sure some of them are wondering if they should have ever said yes to begin with.

And I hope we don’t blow through $15,000 to $20,000 of bond money meant for an outdoor performance space if we truly don’t need it.

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

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