Archive for Thursday, February 22, 2001

Business, civic leaders sound off on Oz

February 22, 2001

Editor's note: This letter was submitted in response to the letter to the editor published in The DeSoto Explorer February 15.

Attacks and name-calling are never an acceptable substitute for facts and correct information. We would like to share some of the facts concerning the Oz redevelopment plan for Sunflower Army Ammunition Plant.

A land scam is not possible, as state law precludes using or disposing of the land in any way other than by the approved proposed development plan.

Per the Oz redevelopment plan, Oz will not cost the taxpayers one penny. This was verified by the county attorney.

The DeSoto school district is among the fastest growing in Kansas.

Industry and retail growth is desperately needed in our school district to provide tax relief for homeowners, in particular seniors and those on fixed incomes.

Worlds of Fun is an amusement park. Oz will be a theme park with enough adjacent amenities to make it a vacation destination.

It is doubtful that many people outside a 300-mile radius of Kansas City have heard of Worlds of Fun. On the other hand, if you travel to New York, London, Paris, Hong Kong or Australia, almost everyone will have heard of Oz and most will also associate Kansas with Oz. Oz has as much recognition as the name Disney does.

Kansas City had 14 million visitors last year. (With NASCAR coming, that number will increase significantly). Branson had 7 million visitors. Of that number, 2.1 million visited the Silver Dollar City theme park. Doesn't common sense tell us that with more than double the number of visitors to Kansas City, Oz can expect to easily meet its required attendance needed of 2.3 million visitors to ensure its success?

Environmental concerns will be addressed with the guaranteed clean up of the entire 9,065 acres of polluted ground. Required insurance policies will guarantee the clean up. Having this 9,065 acres clean and back on the tax rolls of Johnson County and the DeSoto school district will be a great benefit.

Pittsburgh turned down the arches that were later built in St. Louis. In 1999, the Gateway Arch had 4.1 million visitors. Tourism generated $2.32 billion for St. Louis.

Tourism dollars generated by Oz would provide tax relief and jobs for Johnson County residents.

Other smaller tourist attractions in the Kansas City area would benefit from the increased tourism generated by Oz. Kansas City would become a seven-to-10-day vacation destination rather than a two-to-three-day weekend trip. Convention attendees would extend their stay and bring their children, such as they now do at Orlando to see Disney World.

Extensive buffering by greenbelt and golf courses will surround the 9,065-acre development. There will be lakes and numerous beautiful areas to explore.

The Oz redevelopment plan provides for a world-class technology center, superior to any other in this country. What an excellent addition to Johnson County.

If the Army cleans up Sunflower, whose dollars are they using? It is the taxpayers' dollars. Yours and ours.

We cannot, as taxpayers, afford to keep Sunflower off the tax rolls. We understand the wishes of those living near Sunflower that it remain undeveloped. Is it fair to the rest of the taxpayers not to have those tax dollars? We think not.

In closing, the interest of the taxpayers is better served by the Oz redevelopment plan than by the few engaged in reducing the deer population.

Perhaps it is time to ask the very vocal TOTO group what hidden agenda they have. Who does it benefit? How many does it benefit? Who are your members? How many members do you have? In order to have credibility for your opposition to Oz, these are questions that need to be answered. Scare tactics and misinformation will not suffice.

Submitted by Mayor Steve Prudden, Charles "Duke" Neeland, city council; John Taylor, city council; Merle Couch, planning commission; Elizabeth Couch; Randy Canaan, planning commission; James A. Beadle, Marge Morse, economic development director; Pat Atchison, president of DeSoto Chamber of Commerce and Clyde Sanders, planning commission.

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