Despite old struggles, can new opportunities in Wyandotte County 'make this place thrive'?
Development in recent years has transformed the county's west side. And though the county still sees many challenges, especially to the east, community stakeholders are optimistic about paths to the future.
Wyandotte County seems poised for change.
World Cup games are coming to the region in 2026 and a new master plan for the county is in the works, but the area still sees many challenges. Those include affordable housing, gentrification and residents' historically strained relationship with county government and police.
KCUR's Up To Date broadcasted live Wednesday from the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Kansas City's Breidenthal Unit in Kansas City, Kansas, to discuss the community and its future.
For many residents, recent momentum and economic opportunity for Wyandotte County is overshadowed by what work still remains.
"What it looks like on the east side of KCK is just very different than what it looks like on the west side," said Nikki Richardson, co-founder and chief executive director of Justice for Wyandotte. "It leaves a perception as if ... there's parts of the community that's being neglected."
Edgar Galicia, executive director of Central Avenue Betterment Association, said that investing in the east side of Wyandotte County is difficult.
"The rules and regulations that have been put in place in the last 30 years have not protected any of the minorities" who make up a large portion of the population there, he said.
A rule change that restricts mobile vending is just one example, he said. "That's part of the pipeline to create new businesses."
Galicia also said government inaction on transportation and infrastructure needs makes it harder than it should be to get to and around in Wyandotte County.
But more investment there could cause home values and property tax rates to increase further, making worse concerns that low-income residents could be displaced.
"We are not against luxury, we're not against wealth, we're not against (having a) nice quality of life," Galicia said. "But it has to be inclusive in accommodating those who cannot afford the big, nice places ... so that they can actually be part of the new community."
- David Johnston, county administrator, Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kansas
- Edgar Galicia, executive director, Central Avenue Betterment Association
- Melissa Bynam, At-Large District 1 commissioner, Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kansas
- Nikki Richardson, co-founder and chief executive director, Justice for Wyandotte
- Jason Roth, president and CEO, Boys & Girl Club of Greater Kansas City
- Raliyaa W., member, Boys & Girls Club of Greater Kansas City
- Shelby M., member, Boys & Girls Club of Greater Kansas City
- Alvin R., member, Boys & Girls Club of Greater Kansas City