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Penn Valley Park: Q&A With Clay Chastain

One of the more contentious parts of the light rail plan passed by Kansas City voters last month is the proposed closure of Broadway within the park’s boundaries (from 26th to 31st streets). The Friends of Penn Valley Park met recently to discuss the effects of the plan on the park, and here are some of Clay Chastain’s responses, care of the Kansas City Star:

If the roads are closed, how will police or medical personnel respond to emergencies?

The automobile roads would be replaced by “carriage roads” of crushed limestone that could accommodate ambulances and maintenance vehicles. Police could use horse patrols. Passengers in the gondolas with cell phones would add extra eyes to spot and report criminal activity.

If Kessler Road is closed, how will Liberty Memorial access its west loading dock and parking lot?

Memorial employees and delivery vehicles could use a carriage road to the dock, but Kessler would have to close. Further, Chastain suggests banning all automobiles on the memorial grounds, building an underground parking lot near Main Street and running an electric shuttle to the memorial.

What about people who use Broadway to get to businesses on Main Street and Linwood Boulevard?

They can use Southwest Trafficway or take 26th Street and West Pennway to Pershing Road and go around the park.

How flexible is the plan? Couldn’t we just slow down traffic on Broadway so it is not a thoroughfare?

No. The voters have spoken, and the plan cannot be compromised. The vision of a bucolic park is incompatible with automobiles.

Separately, the Sasaki Plan, which was developed by the Downtown Council and Sasaki Associates in 2005 as a precursor to a downtown masterplan, already recommended at least closing the on-ramp to I-35 from Broadway, thus reducing the amount and speed of traffic to create a more welcoming pedestrian experience in the park.

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