Archive for Thursday, July 6, 2006

91st Street traffic problems local issue

July 6, 2006

Residents of De Soto were again treated to a grand fireworks show Tuesday. The show is a result of cooperation between the city, which contributed $6,000 for the show, and school district, which made available De Soto High School stadium for the event.

The show has almost become a tradition, but one gets the impression district officials feel rather like parents handing the keys to the family car to a son going out on a date. They know it has to be done, but worry about what dings and scratches they might discover in the morning. In this case, the stadium is the only place in the community to offer the parking and openness the event needs.

The city encourages good behavior and even with the formal lifting of the fireworks ban this year, which made official policy of stark reality, asked Johnson County Sheriff's Office deputies to enforce parking regulations and the ban on personal fireworks of public property.

Despite these concerns, the relationship between the city and school district has much improved in recent years.

Another sign of at least the spirit of cooperation was the De Soto City Council's recent discussion of whether to include the district in a benefit district for a traffic signal at the intersection of 91st Street and Lexington Avenue. A number of council members argued against the redundancy of taxing another jurisdiction and that schools should be seen as infrastructure just like streets and sewers.

As a counterpoint, one council member noted the district's larger tax base.

That may be true, but the traffic at the intersection is a local, not districtwide, issue. With the exception of a few students from western Lenexa and Shawnee and some out-of-towners visiting the district office, the vast majority of those going through the intersection on their way to Starside Elementary School or De Soto High School will be De Soto residents. That is especially true for the peak morning and evening hours when a traffic control light is most needed at the intersection.

The discussion comes on the heels of the city of Shawnee's decision to forego excise tax on the district's next elementary school in that city. At that site, the district will be asked to pay to extend the street, just as it did on 91st Street, in addition to paying excise taxes for its three buildings. The city has seen that investment pay off with two new businesses and one large industry.

The district has done enough on 91st Street. The city can resolve the local traffic problems at the street without its help.

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