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Despite old struggles, can new opportunities in Wyandotte County 'make this place thrive'?

Club members at the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Kansas City's Breidenthal Unit spoke to Up To Date host Steve Kraske about the activities they're involved with at the club. Activities ranged from art to music to life skills and volunteering.
Zach Perez
KCUR 89.3
Breidenthal Unit members of the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Kansas City spoke with KCUR's Up To Date host Steve Kraske about their involvement at the club. Those activities include art, music, life skills and volunteering.

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
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When I host Up To Date each morning at 9, my aim is to engage the community in conversations about the Kansas City area’s challenges, hopes and opportunities. I try to ask the questions that listeners want answered about the day’s most pressing issues and provide a place for residents to engage directly with newsmakers. Reach me at steve@kcur.org or on Twitter @stevekraske.
As an Up To Date producer, I aim to create a space for Kansas Citians to come together for curious and inspired conversations about the region we call home. I want to help find answers to big questions, shine a light on local change makers and break down complex issues people need to know about. Email me at hallejackson@kcur.org.
As a producer for Up To Date, I create sound-rich talk show segments about the individuals and communities that call Kansas City home. Whether it’s a poet, a business owner or a local lawmaker, I seek out diverse voices to help break down the biggest stories of the day. After listening to the show, I want Up To Date listeners to feel informed and empowered to make decisions in their daily lives. You can reach me at claudiab@kcur.org
As KCUR’s Community Engagement Producer, I help welcome our audiences into the newsroom, and bring our journalism out into the communities we serve. Many people feel overlooked or misperceived by the media, and KCUR needs to do everything we can to cover and empower the diverse communities that make up the Kansas City metro — especially the ones who don’t know us in the first place. My work takes the form of reporting stories, holding community events, and bringing what I’ve learned back to Up To Date and the rest of KCUR.

What should KCUR be talking about? Who should we be talking to? Let me know. You can email me at zjperez@kcur.org or message me on Twitter at @zach_pepez.

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