By Kathy Feist
Photos by Bill Rankin
A late afternoon autumn sun illuminated the green and auburn landscaping and a freshly paved black street in downtown Martin City. Over 60 people had gathered around the speaker’s podium as dignitaries thanked those who had a hand in the completion of Phase II of the 135th Street Improvement construction. The 3:30 p.m. round of speeches was followed by the official ribbon cutting at 4 p.m. Pumpkin painting, a vintage car show and food trucks completed the celebration.
Damon Hodges, project manager with the Kansas City, MO, Public Works, called 135th Street “the jewel of south Kansas City.”
Scott Taylor, 6th District-at-Large Kansas City MO Councilman, said the $3.25 million funded for the project was approved because Martin City “was one of the top revenue generators in the city” and because “it drew visitors from outside of Kansas City.” He gave due credit to Missy Wilson, director of the Martin City Community Improvement District, who took over the project after Barb Engel retired from the position. He also mentioned that a $800 million bond on the ballot in April will help finalize the project (Phase III from Wornall Rd. to Hwy 150.)
Kevin McManus, 6th District Councilman, who recalled always thinking of Martin City as a place to eat, said he would like to see improvements on Holmes Rd as well as State Line with the bond money.
Debbie VanNoy, chairwoman of the Martin City Community Improvement District, thanked those on the board: Curtis Stroud, Mark Nigro, Steve Okenfuss, and Laura Potter. She thanked former executive director Barb Engel for getting the project started and was especially grateful to Missy Wilson. She said Martin City has seen a “$12 million growth since the beginning of Phase II”, citing two new businesses and seven business expansions.
Karyn Brook, chairwoman of the Martin City Business and Community Association, said as a business owner in Martin City for the past 30 years, she “never believed I would see this,” she said. Bicyclists, dog walkers, strollers were uncommon in Martin City prior to the installation of sidewalks.
Brook also presented a plaque to Andrew Fahey with J.M. Fahey Construction as a gesture of thanks from the MCBCA. He thanked everyone for their patience, cooperation and understanding during the past year.
Finally, Dan Tarwater, 4th District Legislator for Jackson County, MO, proclaimed “the center of the universe is right here in Martin City.” “The growth is unprecedented,” he said. “Let’s continue the growth!”
With that those involved with Phase II stood behind a blue ribbon in the middle of 135th Street in front of RC’s where it was cut with oversized scissors.
The celebration continued with pumpkin painting in front of Rosehill Gardens, food trucks in front of the volleyball court at Martin City Sports Complex and a vintage car show at the former Beadz Galore. When the sun set on Martin City, the celebration had ended as had the second phase of 135th Street improvements.