Use of KC-area levees as trails encouraged

At a public meeting sponsored by the Corps of Engineers to discuss the future of levees in the Kansas City area (covered in a KCStar article), the main public response was a request for the levees to be used as part of a hike/bike trail network.

Levees have very successfully been used for such trails in many other areas of the country, including St. Louis. Kansas City is far behind the curve in developing the potential of its riverfronts as a recreational asset for all citizens.

(On the upside, we're far ahead of the curve in using our riverfronts as industrial wastelands and toxic waste dumps.)

Some of the attitudes that have kept Kansas City behind the curve were evident at the meeting:
Stephen P. Daily, general manager of the Fairfax Drainage District in Kansas City, Kan., said in an interview after the meeting that officials fear security problems if public trails are allowed.

"The Fairfax Drainage board, their No. 1 job is to protect the industrial area," Daily said. "They perceive a compromise of security if trails go into a normally locked system."
As an argument, this is a complete red herring. "Bad guys" can already enter and travel along the levee areas at will. Making the levees into public trails will put many more eyes on properties along the trail, and that prevents far more problems than it causes.

[Clay County Commissioner Craig Porter] said recreational users could increase security along the levees and also build more political support for the concept.
Randy Niere, who gave public feedback at the meeting, says that
[N]eeded improvements would be easier to fund if the public felt more connected to the river.

Public buy in [is] essential to economic support [for imrovements to the levee system], and . . . public buy in [is] easier if folks could actually *use* the river.
Randy makes the point that our Kansas City-area rivers are "sequestered". Why would a public that is completely disconnected from the river support hundreds of millions of public-supported work in the flood plain?

Find out more about the levees and the current proposals on the Corps of Engineers web site.

The Corps has a page soliciting public input on the proposed projects.