Something stinks in Mission, Mayor McConwell
The Kansas City Star
Mission Mayor Laura McConwell has worked hard to redevelop the big hole in the ground at the Gateway Center location off Shawnee Mission Parkway.
On Tuesday she found out the long-planned aquarium and a hotel would not be coming.
“We didn’t count on the aquarium to begin with…I think the council is excited about the mixed use and the residential component.”
I’m sure they are.
But McConwell and other Mission officials were plenty excited about the aquarium a few years ago, especially when they thought it might get them state STAR bonds to get the project off the ground.
In fact, back in early 2008, McConwell and a few other Mission city officials spent taxpayer dollars to go to Guam to see a similar aquarium there.
An excerpt from The Star at the time:
“Mayor Laura McConwell, Councilwoman Debbie Kring and Community Development Director Martin Rivarola traveled to the U.S. territory earlier this month to see the island’s aquarium and talk with local business owners and government officials.
“The trip cost an estimated $8,600 and was paid for by the city.
” ‘The place looked awesome,’ Mayor Laura McConwell told council members last week.
“In explaining the justification for the trip, McConwell said Tuesday:
” ‘I felt that if this is going to be a project that the city is going to be behind and go and ask the secretary of commerce to share STAR bond funds…then I wanted to make sure this was a viable, quality project.’
“She added that the trip allowed her to see the facility first-hand to confirm what the developer and U.S. Aquarium team staff had told the city.
“‘It actually exceeded my expectations,’ she said.”
It’s true that the aquarium was not part of the original redevelopment in Mission. But it’s also the part that gave the Gateway Center some oomph.
Now Mission officials basically are left trying to steal a Wal-Mart from nearby Roeland Park to make the Gateway project a success.