City of Excelsior Springs’ Neighborhood Meetings Foster Community Engagement

Residents of Elms Blvd met in the basement of St. Luke's Episcopal Church
Residents of Elms Blvd meet in the basement of St. Luke's Episcopal Church. Photo Courtney Cole

The Community Development Department of the City of Excelsior Springs has taken a proactive approach to strengthening neighborhood bonds by organizing a series of neighborhood meetings. Leading the charge is Laura Mize, the City’s dedicated Neighborhood Specialist, who has been working diligently with residents across the community to address concerns before they escalate while providing a platform for constructive dialogue and potential solutions.

In line with these efforts, a significant neighborhood meeting was held on Monday, July 10, 2023, at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, where residents of Elms Boulevard gathered to voice their concerns. The meeting was prompted by a distressing incident involving a resident who sustained injuries after tripping on a sidewalk along the boulevard. Given the boulevard’s proximity to The Elms Hotel and Spa, it attracts a considerable number of tourists who utilize the sidewalks regularly.

The City’s aim was to actively participate in the conversation, offering clarifications and guidance as neighbors delved into the matters at hand. To facilitate the discussion, the City shared valuable resources, such as the Sidewalk Improvement Policy from the Capital Improvement Authority, as well as an informative article from Iowa State University about sidewalks and trees. These resources were intended to equip attendees with relevant information that could contribute to finding feasible solutions.

As the meeting progressed, the attendees reviewed the documents, which spurred a discussion on the possibility of removing trees along the boulevard to prevent their roots from interfering with the sidewalks. The matter of tree limbs encroaching upon the walkway was also raised, emphasizing the responsibility of homeowners to trim trees and ensure their branches do not obstruct pedestrian paths. Presently, volunteers from the neighborhood have taken on the task of addressing this issue.

Although a conclusive solution was not reached during the meeting, the dialogue initiated an informed conversation that can be further continued. Residents are now better equipped with knowledge about available resources from the City to facilitate property improvements. Notably, the gathering also provided an opportunity for neighbors to acquaint themselves with prominent city figures, including City Manager Molly McGovern, Public Works Director Chad Birdsong, Mayor Mark Spohn, and City Councilwoman Sonya Morgan, who were all in attendance. By actively engaging with local leaders, residents now have valuable connections and access to expert advice when needed. The ultimate goal is to ensure the neighborhood collectively makes decisions that benefit all residents and visitors alike.

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