© 2023 Kansas City Public Radio
NPR in Kansas City
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Discussion About Roeland Park Development Raises Questions About 'Art'

architetural rendering, courtesy of RMTA architectural firm
In October, the Roeland Park City Council approved plans for a "micro hospital" and new Commerce Bank branch office at the northwest corner of Johnson Drive and Roe Avenue. Developers agreed to set aside one percent of the costs for artwork.

Like a handful of other cities in the Kansas City metro area, Roeland Park, Kansas, has a funding mechanism for public art. Roeland Park's one percent for art program was established in 2010 by a city council resolution, and it sets aside one percent of development costs for art. 

But city administrator Keith Moody says the program hasn't been tested a lot. At least not more than once to his knowledge. 

"There hasn’t been a lot of development in Roeland Park since the adoption of the one percent for arts dedication resolution," he says. "So it isn’t something that we deal with frequently." 

Moody says the last major development in Roeland Park was the Lowe's Home Improvement Center and Price Chopper on Roe Avenue. The public art installed? A fountain. 

This week, the Shawnee Mission Post reported "friction" between the Roeland Park and Commerce Bank over proposed public art at a new development. The estimated $6 million to $9 million project at the northwest corner of Johnson Drive and Roe Avenue, approved by the city council in October, is slated to include a "micro hospital" and a Commerce Bank branch office. 

According to Moody, Commerce officials presented a proposal to the city's arts advisory committee, which coordinates the public display of art. 

"Their [Commerce's] initial proposal reflected a seating wall," says Moody. "And we did present that to the arts committee for their direction. Their [arts committee's] direction was it's more of a landscaping component than they felt it was 'art.'" 

Commerce Bank's Lori Roesler says it's just the beginning stages for the project. But she wants to make clear, as she writes in an email: "Commerce Bank is committed to the arts in the communities we serve. We are excited to participate in the one percent program in Roeland Park." 

Members of the Roeland Park City Council are expected to take up the issue on Tuesday during a work session. And the arts selection committee is slated to meet on Wednesday.

Laura Spencer is an arts reporter at KCUR 89.3. You can reach her on Twitter @lauraspencer.

Kansas City is known for its style of jazz, influenced by the blues, as the home of Walt Disney’s first animation studio and the headquarters of Hallmark Cards. As one of KCUR’s arts reporters, I want people here to know a wide range of arts and culture stories from across the metropolitan area. I take listeners behind the scenes and introduce them to emerging artists and organizations, as well as keep up with established institutions. Send me an email at lauras@kcur.org or follow me on Twitter @lauraspencer.
KCUR serves the Kansas City region with breaking news and powerful storytelling.
Your donation helps make nonprofit journalism available for everyone.