KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A council committee Thursday authorized the city to condemn land near Martin Luther King and Independence boulevards as part of the Paseo Gateway Project.
In conjunction with a $30 million federal grant to transform public housing in the area, the city plans to spend $9 million to improve traffic flow and safety at the intersection.
Plans call for new traffic signals, sidewalks and a cycling track and trail.
There also will be decorative lighting, a dedicated left turn lane on Independence Avenue and a pedestrian island to make it easier for folks to cross the busy streets.
But to make all of these upgrades, the city needs to acquire land from ten property owners. So far only five have agreed to sell.
"Condemnation does become a very sensitive approach when we are starting to talk about these types of projects," said Councilman Jermaine Reed, chairman of the transportation and infrastructure committee. "The city has been in contact with a number of owners that are along the Paseo Gateway, Dr. Martin Luther King area. We are trying to be as sensitive as we possibly can, I believe, by moving as slowly, in some cases forward."
The city says it's close to reaching agreements with two of the remaining property owners. But the other three are asking for more than the city is willing to pay.
The condemnation ordinance shows that this is important to the city and the community, but Reed says he hopes it won't have to be used.