Neighborhood sees improvements that help protect kids

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KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- Neighbors in the Turner area are celebrating new sidewalks, curbs and lighting that recently have been installed. The upgrades are helping boost the community around Matney Park. A new walkway links nearby Junction Elementary School to a trail in Matney Park.

Parents like that it will be a lot safer for kids to walk to and from school on sidewalks, rather than out in the street or in a culvert.

"It always has been a concern," said Kristen Shipp, principal of the school. "It's a safety concern as well as for our night events. Attendance, I think, will improve greatly with sidewalks providing safe access to the building. I know our PTA organization is also excited about them so families can walk to school and participate in events they normally could not attend before."

New walkways and curbs along 55th Street meet the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act. They have curb cuts so the disabled can use them without having to step up or step down.

And new lighting at the Turner Community Walking Park is expected to make neighbors feel safer at night.

"Our community has a lot of areas that have ditches, so it can be very dangerous for a kid to try to walk to school when there are ditches right there along the road next to them," said Angela Markley, a Unified Government commissioner. "So this school was a priority because of that issue. Because there are culverts there that are a danger."

Making improvements to older neighborhoods has been no easy challenge for the Unified Government. Commissioners have committed $4.4 million to updating streets, curbs and sidewalks in eight districts across Wyandotte County.

The effort is funded through a public safety and infrastructure sales tax approved by voters in 2010.
The upgrades in Turner cost $210,000. Projects are selected after receiving nominations from citizens through e-mail, neighborhood meetings and community events.

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