LS goes to court to build sidewalk

rpulley@lsjournal.comAugust 12, 2014 

Despite an appeal by the property owner, Lee’s Summit will condemn property to build a sidewalk to fill a gap along Second Street.

Closing the short gap in the sidewalk between Independence Avenue and M-291 will complete sidewalks reaching from Blue Parkway on the west to M-291 and extending to the city’s east side as Second Street transitions to Langsford Road.

The city already is improving Second Street between Jefferson Street and the highway with new asphalt, striping and new storm water inlets.

The city staff had tried unsuccessfully to buy a strip of land adjacent to the Summit East Plaza Apartments.

The city reached agreement with two other property owners, but Lester Massood, whose father built the apartment complex in 1972, and his attorney appeared before the City Council Aug. 7 and asked council members to reject the staff’s plan to extend the sidewalk.

The council voted 6-1, with Rob Binney voting no and David Mosby absent, to go ahead with eminent domain to take the property.

Massood said in an interview that he plans to present his concerns to the judge during those proceedings. He said he was disappointed the council doesn’t respect property rights.

He contends there is little need to fill the gap because only a few pedestrians would use that route and a city study of sidewalks didn’t list it as a high priority.

Councilwoman Diane Seif said, however, that she goes past that site two or three times daily and regularly sees someone walking in the grass or in the street.

Massood’s other concerns include impact of the project on his property, because construction might kill several large trees and harm the complex’s “curb appeal.” He said the city’s plan for the sidewalk doesn’t include a fence or safety barrier to prevent anyone from falling down a steep slope that will be next to the sidewalk.

When the apartments were built, he said, the city didn’t want a sidewalk there.

“Now we’re trying to retrofit something that can be put on another street ...” Massood said. “Take a couple of weeks and come out and look at it.”

He said the city could instead build sidewalks connecting Second Street with Third Street then east to cross Missouri 291 where there are fewer lanes of traffic for pedestrians to cross.

Dena Mezger, interim director of public works, answering council members’ questions, said that stretch of sidewalk would provide connectivity for residents on the east of Missouri 291 with the Gamber Center. It also complements work underway by the Missouri Department of Transportation to upgrade several pedestrian crossings along the highway.

Mezger said that the sidewalks could be built without harming the trees.

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