Some Overland Park resident feel left out of chip seal pavement debate

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OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — The use of chip seal to pave roads in Overland Park has long been a point of contention for many residents who say it is dangerous and damages cars. Now there is another controversy over the make up of the committee put together to look into the issue.

Chip seal is pavement that uses tar or asphalt mixed with rocks. It is a rough surface and it is common for the rocks to dislodge and gather on the roadways.

Some people in Ward 5 of Overland Park say they are not equally represented on a committee looking into this issue.

The Infrastructure Advisory Group was promised to have equal representation of all wards,” said Ward 5 City Councilman Dr. Faris Farassati. “We got a list of the people, and the ward that I represent doesn’t have equal representation. I don’t see a reason for it.”

Ward 5 has one resident member. Other wards have more. Some have four.

“I would like to have one more member of Ward 5,” Farassati said. “We have very qualified potential members that have been on this issue for the last seven years. They applied and they were rejected. I don’t see a reason for it and I just want to get equal representation for my ward.”

“I’m really concerned,” said Shiela Rodriguez.

Rodriguez has been one of the most vocal opponents of chip seal. She has been working to generate awareness about the pavement method for seven years.

She said the rough and crumbling surface has caused injuries to children who play on it and damage to cars. She gathered signatures from presidents of 24 Overland Park homeowners associations to try and get the City to change its preferred paving method. Rodriguez applied to be on the committee but was not chosen.

“I do have a lot of concerns that the problems that maybe are unique to our area will not be addressed and will not be brought to the full attention of the advisory group,” Rodriguez said.

The Infrastructure Advisory Group was not formed to look into the chip seal issue only. It is tasked to assess and improve a wide range of Overland Park’s infrastructure programs.

Ward 3 also has one resident representative on the committee and has one business owner. Ward 3 City Councilman Jim Kite is Chairman of the Public Works Committee and asked for the creation of the Infrastructure Advisory Group.

In a statement to FOX4, Kite said, “I applaud Fred spears who is chairing the Infrastructure Advisory Group for selecting a diverse group of citizens and experts to be part of this important endeavor. Obviously, it is difficult to get a mix of talent and diversity and an even spread of geographic representation.”

A representative from the City of Overland Park also sent a statement and information about the committee, its members and the selection process.

“The Infrastructure Advisory Group member list is available on our website.

The selection committee proposed members prioritizing a group that would allow for diverse technical and economic expertise, demographics and varied backgrounds first. In addition, they also worked to unsure there are residents to represent each ward, plus representation from the City Council, Environmental Advisory Committee, business community, peer Public Works organization and infrastructure industries.

As was outlined in the Infrastructure Program Assessment plan approved by the City Council at its May 3, 2021 meeting, the committee used these applications, in addition to an interview process and evaluation criteria to determine membership.

A PDF spreadsheet of application responses for the Infrastructure Advisory Group members. Pursuant to the exception to the Kansas Open Records Act set forth in K.S.A. 45-221(a)(30), we have redacted the addresses, phone numbers and email addresses included in the application responses; and the references have been redacted pursuant to K.S.A. 45-221 (a)(4) and (a)(30). 

Please note that the selection committee requested Ken Lage’s participation based on his role as a Peer City/County Public Works representative, so he does not have an application entry in this document.”

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