Kansas City's Planning & Zoning Committee held its first community listening session Saturday to connect city officials with residents who had questions and concerns about issues in their neighborhoods.
Around a dozen residents from the area, mostly from the Marlborough neighborhood, showed up at the Trailside Center in South Kansas City to speak with council members and city employees from a variety of departments.
Dan Norburg runs a contracting business in Marlborough. He relished the chance to speak with city officials about local issues that normally might get pushed aside for larger projects and developments.
"Most of the time, our ideas go into what we call the city's 'black hole,'" Norburg said. "The city tries to do too many big things, and they don't listen to the small things that local development people, business owners and homeowners want in their area."
Planning & Zoning chair and council member Scott Taylor said taking care of smaller issues that still have big impacts on residents is exactly why he wanted to hold a listening session in the first place.
"It's difficult to come downtown and get a question answered," Taylor said. "We've found that if we can have meetings in the community with city staff, it just makes it easier for people to come by and ask questions."
Joyce Walker is President of the Marlborough East Neighborhood Association. She says speaking with city officials outside of City Hall is when she feels progress actually gets made.
"At these informal things, [council members] don't feel like they have to perform like they do in the city," Walker said. "We try not to complain to the city too much, because when you do, that's when they stop talking to you."
Taylor says the Planning & Zoning Committee will schedule more listening sessions in the coming weeks. He said the location will change to give different neighborhoods chances to participate.
Cody Newill is a reporter at KCUR. You can follow him on Twitter @CodyNewill.