The Fox Weighs In


Construction Bank, er I mean Commerce Bank in Brookside is getting oh so close to completion. I must admit that part of the reason I bank at Commerce is the convenience of this Brookside Branch and this construction has been somewhat inconvenient.  And with last week’s injuries of two construction workers, the end can not come soon enough.

I am a big of fan of banking locally and in Kansas City you have plenty of local banking options.  Commerce Bank has been around for decades and is a sound banking option. They have many locations and the owners do a lot of good for the Kansas City community.  And while I’m not going to switch banks over this construction matter, I am little disappointed that this new Commerce Bank buliding in Brookside is poised to look much like all the other new Commerce Banks opening up, a modern day stone facade with a clock tower. Somewhat like this. My hope is that there will still be something uniquely Brookside about this branch, sort of like the uniqueness of the Plaza branch on the northeast end of the Country Club Plaza.

What do you think of the Brookside Branch construction? Are you excited for it to come to an end too?

The Fox Weighs In

The Transit of Venus

NASA image of Venus in real color

According to this Kansas City Star article, starting at 5:10 pm today and lasting about six hours Venus will eclipse the moon. Here are the Fox’s suggestions on where to see this universal phenomenon in the Brookside area:

The top of the Student Union Building at UMKC.  Did you know you can just walk on up there? You can catch a great view of the Nelson-Atkins and Downtown and today the Venus eclipse.

Suicide Hill would also be a great place to see this natural wonder.

And last but not least, the rooftop of The Well. Why not grab dinner and a drink and make an event of it?

What are we missing? Are there any other great places around Brookside to see the transit of Venus?

Somewhat Walkable Brookside

According to, the Brookside neighborhood rates a respectable 68 on the walkability scale.  This is toward the upper end of the “Somewhat Walkable” category, and a mere two points away from being “Very Walkable”.

This seems pretty respectable for a neighborhood in a city that is widely considered to be among the nation’s most car-based.  It’s hard to think of anything needful that I couldn’t find within a relatively short walking distance.  While the necessities are pretty close by for most Brooksiders, I think there may be a couple of gaps in what’s possible on foot.  As far as I know, if I need to pick up any items for odd jobs around the house or yard, we still need to motor down to Sutherland’s at the nearest.  The other thing that comes to mind is sporting goods (not sure I can call this a need, though).

In my opinion, Brookside is very walkable, but I wonder if a small neighborhood hardware store or small sports equipment store would be welcomed among the existing shops.  Of course I’m not suggesting a Home Depot and Dick’s Sporting Goods move in, but many neighborhoods in big cities have a place you can go just to get some screws and a new broom, or have a key made.  Likewise, a specialty soccer and/or baseball store might also have enough of a market here.  I think it would be nice not to have to use the 150 horsepower foxmobile to get pick up some such items.

What do you think; are there other things the neighborhood could use to make it more walkable, or is it just right as-is?

Kansas City’s Broken Sidewalks

Yesterday the Star featured an editorial on the sorry state of Kansas City’s sidewalks.  Anyone who’s walked more than a block through Brookside is well versed in the problem–tree roots, sinking land and fifty years of wear and tear have lead to conditions that make you wonder what fault line Brookside straddles.

What I learned from this editorial though, was that in Kansas City Missouri, homeowners are individually responsible for repairing the sidewalks abutting their homes.  There are many problems with this, first and foremost that there’s no enforcement or inducement mechanism to ensure that homeowners actually do replace dangerous sidewalks.  Secondly, as the Star points out, in some of the old neighborhoods that need sidewalk repair the most, citizens cannot afford to prioritize repaving sidewalks.  When your home is underwater, or there’s a drug house across the street, or your house’s resale value is in the five figures, spending a couple thousand dollars on sidewalk repair doesn’t make sense.  And of course, what inducement does an absentee landlord have to maintaining the sidewalks around their properties?  None.

Which leads the fox to ask, why this system?  It’s hard to think of anything more appropriate for property taxes to pay for.  If Kansas City wants to become the city it aspires to be, it has to be willing to take responsibility for the most basic of city maintenance.  I understand the city is constantly facing hard budget choices, but if the long term goal is to get young people to move the city and stay here while they raise families, something Mayor James has talked much about, good infrastructure is vital.  If I can’t walk around Brookside, I may as well live in Lenexa and drive to the high-end strip mall where I can get everything I want in a climate controlled environment.  What the city has to offer over those places is it’s charm and it’s proximity to all the things we need in life.  We have to capitalize on those advantages and good infrastructure is a building block for that.

So, that’s the fox’s opinion.  What does this well informed readership think?