Raymore City Council members voted 6-2 to disapprove the city’s involvement in Cass County’s plan to improve School Road during an April 22 meeting.
Presiding Commissioner and former Raymore Councilmember Jeff Cox presented the proposal to make safety-driven improvements to School Road from Hubach Hill Road to 211th Street.
The cooperative agreement asks Raymore to forego their portion of the county’s Road and Bridge tax revenues for three years, an estimated cost of $546,000, or 10 percent of the $5.5 million project.
The county has committed to covering 68 percent of the cost, and Peculiar would be on the hook for the remaining portion – about 22 percent, or $1.2 million.
As a former student who drove from Raymore to Raymore-Peculiar High School in Peculiar as a teenager, Cox said it’s been a priority to improve the accident-prone area for a number of years.
The plan, which was formally introduced to the council last week during a work session, was drastically shut down for approval as an agenda item despite a number of community members including several Raymore-Peculiar High School students, speaking in favor of the agreement during a public hearing before council members Monday.
Among the representation, area community leaders Jeff Adams, Tom Circo, Ron Johnson, Ryan Johnson and Mike Medsker voiced support for the plan.
"I have hundreds of young people insured, and as people grow and our city grows, and with more drivers and families, we see more cars on the road," said Circo, a Raymore insurance agent. "My company and agency has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on damages to vehicles and injuries to people in car wrecks on School Road. We can’t put a price tag on a life. Our young drivers are priceless."
Chris Benjamin, a Raymore resident, said School Road has been a joke for too long.
"It’s not just another unincorporated, county road," he said. "It’s the road that our families use to get their children to school. Raymore families put their trust in their local leaders to prove safe roads to get their children to school. We finally have a commissioner to put a bold plan together to get this done, and I believe it’s incumbent for our local leaders to work together in a partnership to fix this road."
School district officials, including Superintendent Jeff Kyle, School Board President Kim York and School Board Member Leo Anderson also spoke in favor of Cox’s plan.
"School Road is just not another road, it’s the road," York said. "The high school might not be in Raymore, but every Raymore child that attends public schools will attend that high school.
York said the county is asking the city for 10 percent of the cost, so that 100 percent of Raymore’s children will benefit.
Raymore resident Betty Kowalewich , 82, wasn’t shy about expressing her opposition to the plan, however, saying she wsa firmly against the city using tax money to pay for county roads.
"It’s like New York asking Chicago to pave our streets and do our sidewalks," she said. "What kind of answer do you think Chicago would give New York?"
City Council Member Ryan Wescoat spoke against approving the agreement, stating that Raymore sends $3 million in taxes to the county each year.
"What do we get for it?" he asked. "I say, it’s about ... time to pave School Road. We’ve sent millions of dollar down, and very few dollars come up."