Some aftermath from the MLS All-Star game July 31:
As expected, there were different versions around the world of where the game was played.
According to a quick Internet search, most stories got it right – the game was in Kansas City, Kan. Some sports magazines shortened the name to just “Kansas City,” without a state attached, and the farther away you got from the United States, the more you saw the simple “Kansas City” listed as the site of the game.
A favorite headline, with variations, started with something like, “A loss for the All-Stars, but …” The Atlantic’s headline said it was a loss for the All-Stars, but a win for American soccer. One of Sports Illustrated’s headlines: “MLS All-Stars lose, but the real show comes at halftime.”
The halftime announcement of an MLS expansion by four teams by 2020 grabbed headlines away from the game itself in many publications, but managed to focus attention on the growing popularity of soccer in America, as exemplified by the Sporting Kansas City club in Kansas City, Kan.
Will the six-vote issue return to the Unified Government Commission?
Selection of a UG Commissioner from the 1st District at large stalled with a 5-4 vote, followed by one more vote by the mayor to make it 5-5, in recent months. After several votes, the numbers did not change. Six votes were needed to approve a commissioner.
At the Aug. 1 UG meeting, following Administrator Dennis Hays’ announcement that he would retire next spring, UG legal counsel Jody Boeding said the confirmation of the new administrator would take six votes from the commission. A selection process was outlined with a search committee and an application process. The mayor would choose from the finalists, with the nominee to be confirmed by the UG Commission.
Commissioner Hal Walker, former UG chief attorney, asked Boeding to check on the six-vote requirement. In general, according to the UG ordinances, it takes six votes to pass most items, unless otherwise specified.
Observers shouldn’t expect the same 5-4 vote split on everything. It’s likely that commissioners will have different viewpoints on different issues.
With the passage of the UG’s budget Aug. 1, some comments have been heard from the community about the proposed downtown Kansas City, Kan., YMCA facility.
The YMCA resolution, which passed Aug. 1, is more of a resolution of intent that the UG would give $6 million toward a new downtown Y, with the requirement that the YMCA would have to raise another $6 million in donations for the project. The UG Commission would still have to approve a development agreement before the facility could be built.
The UG stated it wouldn’t give any money to the project until the Y has raised its $6 million, and it has put a two-year time limit on the fundraising period. Mayor Mark Holland said at a discussion of the issue recently that the UG’s $6 million would come from the 1 percent community donation from the Hollywood Casino; the donation is required by a development agreement. So most of the funding would not come from UG taxpayer dollars paid by homeowners.
It’s not likely any money will be coming from this year’s budget for the downtown YMCA; it appears more likely to be a couple of years away. The main recreation center expense currently is the Piper Community Center, which is scheduled to have a ribbon-cutting at 10 a.m. Aug. 17 and open house. It is the site of a former Piper grade school near 122nd and Leavenworth Road, and is a joint project of the UG and the Piper School District.
The downtown YMCA project would replace an existing 100-year-old Y facility, and is an opportunity for the UG to get some additional funding, along with an established program of activities and an organization with experience in operating recreational centers, for a new downtown area recreational facility at a site to be determined.
There is some opposition to the proposed downtown YMCA based on a feeling among some neighborhood leaders that it would attract youth who would then cause trouble at the Y and also in the surrounding community.
But that statement needs to be examined a little more closely. Would we really deny most of our community’s members a nice recreational and community facility just because of the actions of a few? That seems a bit like cutting off one’s nose to spite one’s face. I, for one, have always thought it was unfair to punish everyone in a school room class for the actions of two or three individuals. It’s not fair to most of the people there. It’s not fair to punish 95 percent of the residents of a community for the actions of 5 percent, either.
However, the community needs to take seriously the concerns of its neighborhood leaders who perceive a problem with youth running out of control on the streets. If incidents hadn’t happened in the past, the neighborhood leaders would not be concerned about it now. The community probably has a couple of years to look into ways to address these issues before a center opens. The question of finding a way to mentor those youth before they get into trouble is important, and there are programs that exist now in the community that try to address it. Many good youth programs exist now in the community, and parents are smart if they take advantage of them.
There is time remaining to study what works for other communities and other organizations in providing facilities where there are large numbers of teens using recreational centers. For example, providing a large contingent of adult volunteers, possibly on a ratio of one adult for each two youth, giving individual attention to each person, might be one solution. Adult volunteers could be present to mentor, coach and assist the youth. Maybe giving free admission to one adult parent or grandparent with each youth who attends would be a good idea.
And, possibly addressing the transportation issue of how the youth get from school to the recreational facility each day and then home would be worth looking at. But the worst thing that could be done is to give up and say that because there have been problems in the past, that it shouldn’t be tried now. Many communities successfully offer recreational programs for youth and residents, and they have solved the problems of the details concerning safety, security and transportation.
To reach Mary Rupert, editor, email firstname.lastname@example.org.