Friday, May 18, 2012

Residents express frustration with grocery store situation in Northeast Wyandotte County


The debate on the Wyandotte Plaza project on 78th and State Avenue led to some discussion about the lack of a grocery store in the northeast portion of Wyandotte County at Thursday night's Unified Government Board of Commissioners meeting.

Residents voiced concern with the situation during a public hearing about the Wyandotte Plaza project.

While three grocery stores have opened up in the past four years in Kansas City, Kan., none have been located in the northeast sector of Wyandotte County.

"I'm not jealous of what's going on out west," said Jacquelyn Anderson. "The inner-city just needs a grocery store. Many of our people have to walk. So many of our seniors don't have a car. We need a grocery store."

Last year, an Apple Market in downtown KCK closed up. Since then, no replacement has been found for the store.

Resident Linda Quinn echoed Anderson.

"I don't see where you can justify tearing down one store and building a new store in its place," Quinn said of the Wyandotte Plaza project.

Though there's no store, that doesn't mean the issue has been ignored, said Unified Government County Administrator Dennis Hays.

"This mayor and our commissioners have stood behind this effort," Hays said. "They have requested a private and public partnership."

However, Hays said the county does not have the power simply to build a store and operate it.

"This government does not own any stores," Hays said.

If one petition has any merit, it appears there's a growing demand for a store in the inner-city.

According to Unified Government Mayor/CEO Joe Reardon, his office received a petition asking for a store in the inner-city. The petition featured over 1,500 names, something he says doesn't happen too often.

"It's one of the few times a petition asking for something received that many signatures," Reardon said. "It was a powerful message."

Reardon believes the northeast section will eventually get a store based on the success around the county.

"We are on the path to success with grocery stores," Reardon said. "Four years ago, KCK had not had a new grocery store in 30 years. We've developed a great grocery store at 59th and Leavenworth Road. They're expanding. We built one at 18th Street and I-70. It's succeeding."

Commissioners say they have also attempted to find a partner to build a store there.

No public-private agreement has happened yet.