WESTPORT SIDEWALK VACATION AIMED AT IMPROVING SAFETY
Westport – like communities across America and throughout the world – is grappling with how to curb random gun violence and improve public safety. Entertainment districts, especially, are searching for better and more effective ways to keep their patrons, residents, business owners and employees safe.
Nearly everyone agrees that guns do not mix with bars and alcohol and places where large weekend crowds congregate.
Westport’s Entertainment District began formulating a plan more than a year ago to keep guns out of the popular gathering place on weekends and during special events when the crowds are largest.
Their plan included emulating the common practice, employed by most arenas, stadiums and concert venues, of scanning for weapons and disallowing them inside the designated area.
To do that in this state (Missouri) would have required that the city “vacate” the streets within the Westport entertainment district core, essentially making those streets private during late night hours and special events, under the authority and oversite of the Westport CID, which would be responsible for the ongoing care and maintenance of those streets.
This October, Kansas City, Missouri, Councilwoman Katherine Shields suggested a significant change to the Westport Safety Plan that would address the issues. The streets would remain public but have the city simply vacate the sidewalks during weekend nights from 11pm–4am and special events.
Westport has held numerous community meetings to gain feedback throughout the year on solutions, and appreciates and accepts the fair and balanced compromise. The new Westport Safety Plan to vacate the sidewalks allows the city to retain the ownership of the streets, yet reinforces Westport’s long-term vitality by allowing Westport’s security teams to scan for weapons when people enter the district via controlled entry points on designated sidewalks during late night and other peak hours.
Westport will now be responsible for maintenance and repairs to the city’s sidewalks. Additionally, the city could rescind the vacation and take back control of the designated sidewalks at any time, with 30-days’ notice.
Westport is a diverse community of hundreds of local small businesses, home and condo owners, apartment dwellers and visitors that all want to keep this historically unique, pedestrian-oriented community a safe and special place while upholding the collective rights and civil liberties of all who visit.
- Broadway Westport Council
- Heart of Westport Neighborhood Association
- Westport Regional Business League
- Westport Historical Society
- Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 99
“I support ideas that recognize young adults in Kansas City need and deserve places to go on weekends that are welcoming and safe, absent the threat of weapons. I believe the plan to scan for guns is both logical and audacious, but it saddens me that the level of violence has driven local businesses and residents to this point.”
President, AdHoc Group Against Crime, Damon Daniel
“As a Westport small business owner, we want the best for the people we serve. First and foremost, we have to keep people safe.
While crazy things are happening around the world, Westport keeps that pioneering spirit to build community. After considering all the options, the sidewalk vacation to scan for guns is a no brainer for safety’s sake.”
Local Business Owner, Colleen Kelly
“Westport residents want a safe community to live in when we walk out our front door, and the proposed sidewalk vacation is a good compromise that addresses the urgent need to do something to keep the neighborhood we live in safer without sacrificing the “Westport” that we know and love.”
Resident, HOA Member, Thad Sieracki
“I have worked security at clubs and events in Westport and throughout the city for years, and the fact is weapons don’t have any place in crowded, late night gatherings with alcohol. People can have fun without carrying guns.”
Security Professional and Business Manager, Rico Dejoie
“The sidewalk vacation promotes safety and preserve walkability given Westport’s narrow street layout and the large crowds that frequently use the outdoor venues.”
Property Owner, Todd Gambal
“I lived and worked in Westport and I appreciated the streets blocked off at 11pm on Friday and Saturday. Scanning for guns with a sidewalk vacation keeps this special area full of pedestrians safe.”
Wesport patron and recently worked & resided in Westport, Katie McCalla
Q: What sidewalks will be vacated?
A: On Pennsylvania Avenue from the south edge of 40th Street on the north to the north edge of Archibald Street, and Westport Road from Broadway on the east to Mill Street on the west.
Q: When would the sidewalks be closed and subject to security scans?
A: Friday and Saturday nights from 11PM to 4AM and during a few other larger festival and event dates when the streets are traditionally closed.