Proposed youth entertainment district slated for KC Parks Board consideration

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kansas City’s Board of Parks and Recreation Commissioners will hear a proposal to build an entertainment district for youth Tuesday.

Pat Clarke is the man behind the proposal. Clarke has basketball courts at Oak Park near 44th and Benton where signs read “Pat Clarke Park.”

“If you go to other neighborhoods, they obviously have got way more. So it would be more fun, I think it would be better if we had a lot more down here,” said 17-year-old Carl Thompson as he played basketball with friends Friday. 

Teens in the city often flock to the Country Club Plaza or Independence Center to hang out. Each has had to institute either curfews or bans to try to stop the fights and other violence that sometimes follows them. 

“There’s nothing to do on the Plaza but shop. So if you are down there and you aren’t shopping, you are hanging out, more than likely causing trouble,” DaNearle Clarke said. 

But just a couple miles east down Brush Creek sits several acres of Kansas City Parks Department land between Elmwood and Cleveland avenues. Clarke wants to lease the land and build an entertainment center with a bowling alley, skating rink and skate park, arcade and amphitheater.

“Our kids are drag racing up and down (Highway) 71, driving donuts in the middle of intersections, causing chaos, shooting people. This place will cut into all of that. You give these kids something to do, and you decrease crime,” Clarke said.

He thinks if you give the teens a place they feel wanted and have something to do, they won’t cause the same type of problems.

The center would likely take $2 million or more to build, but he has a unique plan to pay for it. 

“If the Plaza wants their money back, give us some money. If Independence (Center) mall don’t want our kids out there, give us some money. All the places where our kids are not wanted, we are looking to work with them,” Clarke said. 

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