KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A proposed $39 million youth entertainment district on Kansas City’s east side has gained initial approval from a Kansas City Parks and Recreation Board committee.
Kansas City has already seen more than 150 homicides this year and the Oak Park neighborhood has seen its fair share. Shots rang out at 44th and Montgall Avenue last week leaving one man dead.
It happened just a block from Pat Clarke Outdoor Arena, where KJ Bowman plays basketball with youth and has seen the transformation it can have in kids’ lives.
“It’s just something to keep them out of the streets going to all the fast money giving them an opportunity to be out here and be active,” Bowman said.
The court is named for a man who has been working the past couple years on a much larger project for area youth on several acres of Kansas City Parks Department land along Brush Creek between Elmwood and Cleveland Avenue.
Last month a teen was shot at Country Club Plaza, last week three teens shot near T Mobile Center. Clarke says youth from his area of town are impacting people across the Metro in other ways.
“All these kids that are stealing these cars they live around here, but just imagine if these kids had something else to do,” Clarke said.
Kansas City Parks and Recreation Department’s Review Committee just gave approval for Clarke and others to move forward with plans for the Oak Park Entertainment District with a bowling alley, pool, zip line, skate park and amphitheater.
The land belongs to the parks department and it mentions there are still location specific needs to address, part of the area is in a flood plain. For Clarke another obstacle could be funding.
“I got $39 million you just can’t see it yet. We need people who can help make a difference and make this thing more than just a dream. For me it started out a vision, I’m almost there,” Clarke said.
People who play basketball on the court named for Clarke in Oak Park say part of the court’s success has been Clarke’s rules, like no bags inside the court so a fight over a hard foul doesn’t turn deadly. He says he’d look into certain rules at the entertainment district as well, including possibly requiring parental supervision.