Blog

Won’t you meet our neighbor: Alex Gill

i Aug 10th No Comments by

Alex Gill has lived on Jefferson Street for the last five years and serves on the WPHA Membership Committee. Here’s how he answered our resident profile questions:

Why did you choose to live in this neighborhood? My wife and I were living in an apartment on the Plaza and wanted to start a family. We knew we wanted to stay within KCMO city limits, and this area of town just spoke to us!

Do any family members or pets live with you? My wife, Caroline, our 18-month-old daughter, Lily, and our dog, Trudy.

Occupation (past or present)? Both Caroline and I work at Children’s Mercy (Hospital Hill) and love it!

How do you like to spend your free time? We truly enjoy staying local….like taking Lily and Trudy on neighborhood walks and taking part in local experiences like long lines at Betty Rae’s on nice summer evenings!

What’s the most interesting feature of, or story about, your house? The previous owner of our home worked for NASA, which I think has to be pretty rare!

What is your favorite area business/restaurant/meal/drink/service? Betty Rae’s! Both Caroline and I went to Mizzou, and the owner of Betty Rae’s used to work for Sparky’s Ice Cream Shop in Columbia! So, naturally, I feel a connection. Caroline jokes with our friends that I single-handedly made sure that Betty Rae’s made it through the first month by going every single night!

What Waldo hidden gem would you recommend to neighbors and why? F3 Fitness (75th Street across from CVS). Andre is the owner/operator and is tough, but fair.  He provides a quality service at a fair price. If you’re thinking about improving your personal fitness then I recommend you go talk to him.

Is there anything you would change about the neighborhood? We love the neighborhood!  If I could change one thing it would be the level of involvement.  I would love to see more people in the neighborhood involved in the association!

Caroline and Alex Gill

Caroline and Alex Gill

The WPHA can provide paid security while you’re away from home

i Aug 9th No Comments by

Guest post by WPHA resident Jim Anderson

The picture above from our Ring camera shows the police checking on our house while we were out of town. I always request the Ward Parkway Homes Association’s vacation house watch service every time we are gone more than just a couple days.

You can get access to this protection by becoming a member of our homes association and supporting the KCPD security patrol service. It is a wonderful thing to know your home is being watched by the “good guys.”

When I am home working in my office, I frequently look out the window and see marked or unmarked police cruisers going down our street. Our neighborhood takes security seriously enough to pay for off-duty officers to spend hours each week patroling our streets to watch for patterns and deter property crimes. A regular police presence sends would-be criminals elsewhere to prey on easier targets. I love seeing officers in our neighborhood. And I value the benefit of having them monitor my home for suspicious activity when I’m away.

The concern I have is that there are not enough paying neighbors to continue our security patrol service. I would hate for the WPHA to lose out to other neighborhoods who are on the waiting list for a security patrol service. Please review the information consider joining. Our KCPD security patrol is covered through the end of the year and can continue if we get enough paying members.

If you are a already a WPHA member, thank you so much. If you are a member but have not not opted to support the security patrol in the past, please join me and others in helping to keep our homes safe and protected.

The WPHA’s security patrol service ensures that we have a regular police presence than the understaffed Kansas City Police Department can otherwise provide in such a large city. This service, when combined with personal security cameras and watchful neighbors, helps keep property crimes in our neighborhood among the lowest in the city. And that’s the way we want to keep it!

Ring camera screenshot of police officer on front porch

 

 

Hale Cook Elementary enlivens our neighborhood

i Aug 9th No Comments by

Guest post by WPHA resident Sara Wiercinski

My husband and I bought our first home in 2011: a mint-green Colonial at the corner of 74th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, across the street from Hale Cook, a mothballed public elementary school. At the time I was pregnant with my son Luke. Though kindergarten seemed like a long time away, I became curious about the school, seeing as how we were now neighbors.

While walking my dogs by Hale Cook one Saturday, I met a group of people hosting a neighborhood yard sale — mostly donated items — to create buzz around campus. These friendly people in red T-shirts called themselves the Friends of Hale Cook. I learned about their efforts to generate neighborhood support for reopening the public school. The school district had not sold the school, only closed it for a while.

I was relatively new to Kansas City, and saw an opportunity to join these group of dedicated parents (and soon-to-be parents) to promote our dream for the neighborhood.

Soon after, Friends of Hale Cook formed as an official nonprofit organization with a board of directors. We conducted town halls, canvassing sessions, meetings with the school district, fundraisers, clean-up days, parade floats and even a feasibility study, commissioned by then-superintendent Stephen Green to prove community support for reopening the school. It was a lot of work for the six board directors, our families and a few regular volunteers. I have to admit that at times I doubted whether our efforts would go anywhere. The district had many other priorities. Also, there was much confusion around school choice and terminology (charters, magnets, private, signature schools).

Yet the hard work and persistence paid off. In 2013, the school district approved the reopening of Hale Cook Elementary. That first year, Hale Cook resided within a few classrooms inside Hartman Elementary; the following year our school building reopened to welcome kindergarten through second grade.

Julie Lynch, who served as transition coordinator while Hale Cook was off-site at Hartman Elementary, was named principal. Since then, Julie has been instrumental in developing a successful school with top-notch staff and a community spirit.

My son Luke entered kindergarten at Hale Cook in Fall 2017. I never considered sending him to any other school. Though I had been involved with the school’s reopening, joining the school as a parent was a new experience. My son has enjoyed two wonderful school years, and this month he returns as a second grader. My daughter Hazel will enter kindergarten at Hale Cook in fall 2020.

A few reasons why my family loves Hale Cook:

  • It’s a public school. Our school’s success contributes to the success of the overall school district. Test scores are up, and the district is on track to becoming fully accredited next year. This is great news for Kansas City.
  • The teachers. Luke has learned to read, do math, make art and sing. These hard-working educators deserve recognition for their dedication and patience.
  • Hale Cook families represent a variety of life experiences. This diversity is a gift.
  • LINC. Hale Cook starts at 9:15 a.m. and ends at 4:15 p.m., so many families need help before and after school. Our LINC site coordinator, Qiana McGee, coordinates fantastic partnerships to bring creative and educational programming to our extended care program. Through LINC, Luke has cooked healthy snacks, performed at a tap dance recital, weeded the school garden and competed in three chess tournaments. LINC also offers Girls on the Run, drumming, art and scouting. Families pay no fees for LINC.
  • Thanks to partnerships with Kansas City Community Gardens and hard work of volunteer stewards, Hale Cook has a beautiful vegetable garden and orchard with pears, apples, blackberries and raspberries. We are also a designated Monarch Watch waystation.
  • Active PTA. Our fundraisers and partnerships with community resources have resulted in improvements to the school grounds, including sun shades and a swing set on the playground. This past January, the PTA’s first-ever trivia night raised funds to hire a part-time Spanish instructor. These committed parents make for a vibrant, caring school community.

Eight years ago, I would have been unable to dream up what a gift Hale Cook Elementary has become to my family. I now hear of families who want to move into our neighborhood so their children can attend and walk to Hale Cook. As neighbors, we all have a stake in the success of Hale Cook and the school district as a whole, even those of us to don’t have children or whose children attend other schools. Shouldn’t Kansas City’s recent development boom elevate public education for all urban kids?

If you’re interested in learning more about my family’s experience at Hale Cook, email me at srechtin@gmail.com. If you want to volunteer at Hale Cook, please contact the school. We would be happy to have you.

exterior of Hale Cook Elementary School

311 has answers to many neighborhood questions

i Jun 27th No Comments by

There is an easy way to alert city staff to problems in our neighborhood. Through the City of Kansas City’s 311 Call Center, residents can request service for:

  • Broken streetlights
  • Potholes
  • Dead or dangerous trees in the city’s easement
  • Stormwater problems
  • Missing or damaged street signs
  • Nuisance properties
  • Animal issues, such as pet hoarding and rodents.

The city tries to respond to requests within two days, though this year’s proliferation of potholes has taxed its resources. To report a problem:

  • Call 311 or 816-513-1313.
  • Fill out an online form.
  • Click a location on an online map.
  • On Twitter, follow @KCMO311.
  • Download the 311 mobile app (iOS and Android).
  • Mail the service request form to 311, City Hall, First Floor, 414 E. 12th St., Kansas City, MO 64106
  • Fax the service request form to 816-513-1303.

When submitting a service request to 311, include the location of the problem (either an address or detailed geographical information), a description of the problem and your contact information. You can also check the status of your 311 service request.

Won’t you meet our neighbor: Julie Wittman

i Jun 17th No Comments by

Julie Wittman originally started volunteering for the Ward Parkway Homes Association as a way to meet people and contribute to a great neighborhood. Today, she serves as co-chair of the WPHA Communications Committee and is a former Board member. (If you’d like to join the Communications Committee, she’d love to put your ideas and skills to use!)

Here’s how Julie answered our resident profile questions:

How long have you lived in the Ward Parkway Homes Association? Since 2011

Why did you choose to live in this neighborhood? I’ve lived along the South Plaza/Brookside/Waldo corridor for more than 15 years, and this part of KCMO just can’t be beat. I love that I can access the Trolley Track Trail and public transit so close to home, and that I can walk to my eye doctor, dentist, gym, hair salon, ice cream, library, and other local restaurants and services in a matter of minutes.

Do any family members or pets live with you? My husband, Andy.

Occupation (past or present)? I am part of the communications/marketing team for the City of Lenexa. Lots of public service experience so far in my career.

How do you like to spend your free time? Crochet, cooking and eating, reading, podcast listening, learning new things, gardening, long walks and talks, sipping a sazerac.

What is something most people don’t know about you? I’m probably the only renter in the neighborhood who has served on the WPHA Board. (Renters matter too!) Also, I formed the first women’s lacrosse umpire board in the Kansas City metro in the early 2000s. Refereeing lacrosse across the Midwest as a decade-long side hustle helped me pay off student loans.

What’s the most interesting feature of, or story about, your house? I was curious about what building-related permits the City of Kansas City had on file for our house, and the only one they could come up with was a sparsely-detailed permit to build the darn thing in 1922 for a whopping $5,000.

What is your favorite event or memory of the neighborhood? My mind was blown by some of the astonishing “secret garden” backyards of houses in our neighborhood that I visited during WPHA Garden Tours in past years. People are so passionate and creative! I’d love to see this event be revived someday.

What is your favorite area business/restaurant/meal/drink/service? Betty Rae’s, which is dangerously close to my house. And Bier Station, for the innovative concept and community spirit it introduced to the area.

Julie Wittman

Going on vacation? Don’t make these common home security mistakes

i Jun 6th No Comments by

When leaving for a summer vacation, protecting your home is just as important as protecting the items you bring with you. Be sure to take the necessary steps to give you peace of mind while you’re away. Here are some frequent mistakes to avoid.

Hiding a spare key outside the home

Homeowners often hide spare keys around their houses, whether inside a fake rock, in a nearby plant or under the welcome mat. Because this is so commonplace, most burglars can easily find the hidden key, which makes breaking into your home quite simple. Instead, opt to keep a house key in a safer place, such as with a trusted neighbor, family member or friend.

Announcing your vacation on social media

It’s well known that you shouldn’t advertise vacations online (or anywhere, for that matter) before taking off on your trip. Don’t even post social media status updates while still on vacation. But maybe even more important is double-checking your social media accounts to make sure your address is not readily available to anyone seeking it. Delete past posts, party invites or events that may include your phone number as well. It’s easy to do a quick Google search and link a phone number to an address.

Not keeping up with your normal outside maintenance or routine

If you typically park your car in your driveway when you’re home, ask your neighbor if he/she would mind parking their car in your driveway while you’re away. This will give the appearance that someone is home. Keep up on regular home maintenance. Do you normally have a gardener maintain your lawn and landscaping? Weekly visits from the pool guy? Keep these schedules. If you do your own lawn work, hire it out or recruit family or friends to help while you’re gone.

Have a neighbor retrieve your recycling bin on trash day. If any potential thief is staking out houses, they’ll notice if something is off.

Letting mail, newspapers or packages pile up

One easy way to tell if someone isn’t home is to just notice the pile of newspapers on the front lawn or the overflow of mail pouring from the mailbox. Suspending your mail service or having a trusted neighbor pick up your mail is a great way to deter thieves.

Forgetting to lock windows and doors before you leave

As simple as this sounds, sometimes people forget to double check that every door and window in their home is locked and secure before they head out on a trip. About 30-35% of all home break-ins in the U.S. take place through an open door or window.

Keeping your house in the dark

Installing outdoor light with sensors or motion activation is always recommended for general home security. While you are away, using timers or other smart home lighting systems on interior lamps/lights will give the impression that someone is home and could deter unwanted guests.


 

Did you know?

The WPHA private security patrol comprised of retired and off-duty KCPD officers will check your house, doors, locks, windows and yard while you are on vacation and contact you if anything looks suspicious. Peace of mind while on vacation is priceless! Make sure you support this add-on service to get access to the vacation patrol benefit.

Won’t you meet our neighbor: Maureen Hardy

i Jun 5th No Comments by

After 26 years, Maureen Hardy knows a thing or two about living in the Ward Parkway Homes Association. A longtime WPHA Board member, she’s a great advocate for our neighborhood at City Hall.

What street do you live on? Pennsylvania Avenue

Why did you choose to live in this neighborhood? Chose this neighborhood because it is a great community. beautiful homes and close to businesses.

Do any family members or pets live with you? Husband Gene

Occupation (past or present)? Retired, worked for Mayor Kay Barnes for 10 years.

How do you like to spend your free time? Reading, exercising, watching Kansas City Royals.

What is at the top of your bucket list? Don’t really have one, but would like to visit all the states I haven’t seen yet.

What is something most people don’t know about you? Love to sit on porch and enjoy the neighborhood and have it filled with neighbors that stop by and socialize.

What’s the most interesting feature of, or story about, your house? Built in 1923, great old beautiful house with lots of original, beautiful woodwork.

What is your favorite event or memory of the neighborhood? After we moved in, so many neighbors came and introduced themselves and offered us help.  We went to July 4th picnic and met lots of folks and had a great time, and the rest is history.

What is your favorite area business/restaurant/meal/drink/service? Waldo Pizza, and most of the businesses we’ve used are great and friendly.

What Waldo hidden gem would you recommend to neighbors and why? Being a part and joining the WPHA and signing up to volunteer and help out with some of our fun activities and meet more of your neighbors. Dues are very reasonable.

Is there anything you would change about the neighborhood? Have more four-way stop signs around the school especially, and enforce the speed limit around our house, which is right next to the school.

Maureen Hardy

Maureen Hardy

Volunteer for upcoming events and activities

i May 10th No Comments by

The WPHA seeks volunteers to help with upcoming events and committee activities. Can you offer some of your time or talent? (This is a great opportunity for high-school-aged neighbors to earn community service hours.)

Harvesters Food Drive

Volunteers needed to help assemble and deliver donation bags with instructions to each house in the neighborhood during the weekend of June 1. Volunteers also needed to collect and sort food donations and deliver them to Harvesters on Saturday, June 8.

4th of July Picnic

This lunchtime event takes place on Thursday, July 4. We need 10 volunteers. No prior volunteer experience is needed. Volunteers should be able to lift 10 pounds, stand for 60-minute intervals, and present a positive energy. Volunteers will be asked to come to the event 1 hour before it starts, work periodically during the picnic, and stay about 1 hour after it ends. Volunteers will be able to eat during the picnic. High school students are encouraged to volunteer.

Membership Committee

Volunteers needed for WPHA’s Spring Membership Drive, Thirsty Thursdays, and Fall Neighborhood Night Out. No prior volunteer experience is needed. Volunteers should be able to walk the neighborhood for 30–60-minute intervals, stand for 60 minute intervals, and present a positive energy. High school students are encouraged to volunteer for Membership Drive. Volunteers must be 21 years of age or older for Thirsty Thursday and Neighborhood Night Out.

Security Committee

Volunteers needed to join the committee as regular members. No prior volunteer experience is needed. Committee volunteers may be asked to communicate with local law enforcement agencies and/or local city officials and represent the WPHA at other crime/safety groups. Committee volunteers may be asked to summarize reports and work with basic computer programs.

Contact the WPHA to raise your hand. We’ll reply to your email within 72 business hours. Please identify the opportunity for which you would like to volunteer.

A gorgeous neighborhood starts with you

i May 10th No Comments by

Not surprisingly, a recent WPHA survey found that residents appreciate the beauty of our neighborhood and have a deep interest in keeping it looking good. Although the WPHA contributes to this effort by maintaining two public green spaces, much of the responsibility for beautification lies with individual homeowners, according to the Kansas City Code of Ordinances. Several excerpts from the code are summarized below:

Street gutters

Property owners and occupants have a duty to keep the sidewalk, curbing and guttering that adjoins their property in good order. This includes clearing away all earth or litter and removing obstructions that are dangerous, inconvenient or “annoying.” Residents are prohibited from sweeping litter from sidewalks into the gutters and streets.

Location of refuse containers

In between the city’s weekly waste collections, refuse containers must be stored in the rear yard or a side yard. (Residents on corner lots may not store their trash containers on either of the street sides.)

If appropriate storage imposes an undue hardship because of an occupant’s advanced age or physical limitations, storage of refuse containers may be permitted elsewhere on the property. However, the trash containers must be screened from the view of other residential properties by a solid wall or tight fence.

Bulky items at curbside

Residents who have scheduled supplemental waste collection pickups may not place their items at the curb earlier than 3 p.m. the day before the scheduled collection date. Items for disposal are permitted to remain at the curb no more than 24 hours.

Recreational vehicles

In Kansas City’s residentially zoned districts, there are two options for parking and storing recreational vehicles, boats, trailers and camper shells:

  • Enclosed within a garage or accessory structure.
  • On the paved driveway or a paved parking space so that the RV or boat is at least 11 feet from the near edge of the curb and, when a sidewalk is present, at least 2 feet from the rear edge of the sidewalk surface.

Resources

  • Schedule a bulky item pickup. Fee-based (816-380-5595) and no charge (816-513-1313). options are available. Learn more
  • Dispose of yard waste. The city schedules free curbside pickup of yard waste in the spring and fall. Residents may also drop off yard waste for free at one of three spots across the city. Learn more
  • Report a code violation. Dial 311 or 816-513-1313, or submit a form online.

spraying water on sidewalk

EXTENDED: Take advantage of mid-year membership drive discount

i May 10th No Comments by

Great news, neighbors! The WPHA Membership Committee is conducting its first ever mid-year membership drive during May through June. For a limited time, we have discounted the price of a homes association membership plus security patrol dues from $110 to just $75 — a savings of 32%.

Our KCPD security patrol service is the single biggest line item in the WPHA budget. We partner with nearby homes associations to pay for patrol by off-duty KCPD police officers. They help deter and respond to property crimes such as theft, burglary, robbery and vandalism. It makes the entire neighborhood safer and, for participating members, it provides security checkups on your home while you are out of town.

We want to maintain our valuable security patrol service at its current level. To do that, we need your help! We need you to become a member and support the security patrol.

You’ve been thinking about joining the WPHA. Now is the time! Take advantage of the significant mid-year membership drive discount so our entire neighborhood can continue to enjoy the benefits of the added security that regular police patrols provides our neighborhood.

To access the special discount, follow these simple steps:

  • Visit the Become a Member or Renew your Membership page.
  • Scroll down to the Pay Online section of the page.
  • Select the “PRORATED: Annual Membership Dues + Security Patrol Service” option in the Membership Options drop-down menu.
  • Click “Pay Now” and enter your payment information.

If you prefer to pay by check, send payment to:

Ward Parkway Homes Association
P.O. Box 140083, Kansas City, MO 64114

Security patrol has made our neighborhood safer. Its regular presence helps keep crime rates low and drives would-be criminals out of our area. And remember, security patrol supporters enjoy the added benefit of having officers monitor your home when you are away. This extra peace of mind is a major benefit only available to our neighborhood when we participate in the security patrol service through the KCPD.

The mid-year membership drive will end June 30, 2019.  Join or renew today to take advantage of discounted pricing!

red button with word "action" on it