28 August, 2007

Letter to the Mayor

Dear Mayor Funkhouser;
Today was my first experience with active participation in local government - aside from years of diligent and researched voting. After today I am heartsick and deeply disappointed with the way things work - or don't work. At 11:00am today I received notification that today's 2:00pm public meeting of the Parks and Recreation Commission would include an item to rescind resolution 28019, replacing it with resolution 28125, a resoltion that very nearly prohibits dog parks from being built in Kansas City, namely in neighborhoods. I took the rest of the day off of work to attend this meeting. I arrived early and signed up to speak on the form they had posted. When the meeting began Commissioner Fierro stated that no one here to represent the dog parks would be allowed to speak. Several people attempted to discuss the dog park issue and were shut down. Without any public comment and without allowing anyone who had officially signed up to speak, speak the Kansas City Parks and Recreations Commissioners unanimously passed Resolution 28125. In fact a press release announcing the passing of the bill was out before the meeting was even adjourned.

This resolution sates the following site selection factors:
  • Locate off leash areas in large community and regional parks where appropriate space is available.
  • Avoid area that abut or are in close proximity to neighborhood and residences.
  • Locate where there will be minimal impact upon the total visual character of a park.
  • Locate where adequate parking will be available nearby
Where would one even find a park that isn't in close proximity to residences? Downtown is even becoming a residential area. It seems that this resolution was passed specifically to shut down a single proposed neighborhood dog park. But more than the disbelief that the Parks and Recreation Commissioners would essentially draft a resolution in order to kill a plan proposed by its citizenry, it is the disbelief that they would do so in such a flagrantly disrespectful way - completely removing the "public" from public meeting.

Mayor Funkhouser, I have seen you at meetings supporting this proposed dog park, I've even seen Maria there. Your seeming passion for improving the use of our local parks and making them a place for all - people with pets included - was one of the reasons why you received my vote. But I am sorely sadden by the way your Parks and Recreations Commissioners conduct business. Namely Commissioner Stackhaus who seemed gleeful to see us shut down without being able to voice our concerns. Are these the kind of people you have selected to be on your commissions and boards? I am outraged and disappointed.

I will admit that certain members of our group became loud and assertive, a tack that I do not find helpful - it is in my nature to be passive. But after today I see that it might be the only way. I hope that you can show me that my first look into local government was not the way things are really handled - that public meetings really do involve the public, that resolutions are not just passed without the input of the people it affects. If you would like to discuss this issue further I am available at XXX-XXX-XXXX.

Best Regards,

Morgan A. Perry

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