Dozens of KCMO neighborhoods closing streets through limited COVID-19 permit program

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — With so many camps and parks either closed or cramped in the summer of COVID-19, many Kansas City neighborhoods are taking advantage of a limited permit program.

It allows neighbors to block off portions of streets to give children and families extra room to roam.

“I’m stuck at home from work, my wife’s stuck at home from work, my kids don’t have summer camps to go to,” said Brian Strohm, who successfully applied to block off a portion of 69th Street near his Brookside home. “So anywhere else they can run around besides their yard, play with other kids, it’s pretty nice and ideal.”

The Open Streets KC permit program is similar to a block party permit, without the party. It’s a free application with a fairly fast turnaround.

“I had to send an email to everyone on the block letting them know that I was applying for it and that I will be putting up the street signs with the permit and that was about it,” Strohm said.

Neighbors will have to supply their own signs and cones. The organization BikeWalkKC is also offering an equipment rental program for anyone who needs cones or signage.

The program lasts through the city’s state of emergency, which is set to expire Aug. 15.

Strohm said some of his handmade closure signs have been knocked over, and he recognizes the program can put extra traffic strain on surrounding streets.

“Some others are not necessarily thrilled because traffic is probably picked up on their streets, and they cannot get the same permit because they’re adjacent to us,” Strohm explained.

But on the whole, Strohm said it’s been a nice way to build a feeling of community during a very unusual summer.

“We’ve had neighbors doing concerts, ukulele concerts across the road,” Strohm said. “People can sit out in the road at night. At least we can stay somewhat socially distanced.”

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