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Council Ponders Light Rail, Bannister Petitions

Transit attorney-lobbyist Jeff Boothe is also a member of the HNTB transit planning team.
Transit attorney-lobbyist Jeff Boothe is also a member of the HNTB transit planning team.

By Steve Bell

http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/kcur/local-kcur-663517.mp3

Kansas City, MO –
At its business session, the Kansas City, Missouri City Council heard advice from a transit lobbyist on getting federal dollars for a light rail system.

Attorney and lobbyist Jeff Boothe agreed in part with the mayor's insistence on real light rail, not streetcars, and the council's consensus on starting small and building. But he was not in complete agreement with either side in the debate.

Boothe said it is a good idea to build a starter line before approaching the federal government. But he says an all-streetcar system won't get federal help at this time, and making the starter line too long and putting it in a prime ridership area would end up diminishing the federal dollars amount.

Later, in business session, the council passed a plat division ordinance to enable the proposed Bannister Mall redevelopment. Councilman John Sharp, who lives in the Banister area, said he is concerned about a petition drive to block the construction of the Wizards' stadium, sports fields and retail and office space. Sharp says the measure would fail at the polls, but the delay necessary to schedule a public vote could cause the Wizards to pull out.

Sharp and colleague Bill Skaggs speculated that Kansas developers may be secretly bankrolling the petition signature drive.

The council also approved arrangements for a contract with a law firm to defend it against a suit that resulted form its renewal of city manager Wayne Cauthen's contract.

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