On a night when very few original ideas or initiatives actually surfaced, District 1 candidate Diane Forte could at least claim the best.
When asked how candidates would spend a windfall of $500,000, Forte replied she would first get someone to match the funds and then invest in more monument markers for Lee’s Summit’s gateways.
It was a brilliant answer in an otherwise mediocre forum, the second of this city election season held at the Gamber Center.
Sure, there were the old standby topics, like the expansion Lee’s Summit Airport, in which we shockingly found out that former District 3 councilman and current candidate Joe Spallo opines will not be an “economic boom.”
And we had new adventures to tackle, like the Happy Valley project on I-470, Summit Place and tax incentives and what to do when our landfill finally fills up in a few years.
Some of the best sound bites came during the Arnold Hall discussion. This subject is of great magnitude for these candidates as three of the seven will be sitting on council in the next month and will have to start making some decisions on the future of that area, the outdoor performance space and how to proceed with a bond issue that has been approved and since gone awry.
District 2 candidate Craig Faith was the first to mention the role of the Lee’s Summit Arts Council and using their expertise. Fellow District 2 hopeful Tim Denker suggested a still popular idea, making the building into a “white box” that would sustain artists, music and other art-related avenues.
Another District 2 candidate, Trish Carlyle, was keeping an eye to the financial side while giving a nod to a concept that has not been widely accepted in the downtown and arts community, saying, “I don’t know that pouring more money into Arnold Hall is the right answer…if we end up wiping out the whole block.”
District 3 hopeful Diane Seif stated that cultural events bring balance to the community and Spallo seemed sour on the idea, reminding the crowd that “Martin City didn’t pan out” and that, apparently, the basement of Arnold Hall is prone to flooding.
“It’s almost like ‘Let’s Make a Deal,’” District 1’s Diane Forte noted, adding decisions need to best benefit downtown. Her opponent, Robert Dye, proposed an activity center and meeting place. Perhaps he had that idea since he was, indeed, sitting in a still fairly new building that serves both those purposes.
In another rare moment of opinionating, when Summit Place came to the table, Seif said what many of us have been thinking since our elected officials couldn’t seem to get consensus to move it forward.
“I’m a little disappointed the decision wasn’t made by the current council,” Seif said, alluding to the fact that the issue was continued into May.
Amen to that.
Perhaps this “new” council will help refocus group after April 8.
John Beaudoin is the publisher of the Lee’s Summit Journal. To comment, call 816-282-7001 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.