Friday, September 07, 2007

The sign is up
at 17th and Jefferson Street - Kansas City, Missouri.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Billboard to Be Unveiled

Tuesday, September 4,

As Part of Effort to Secure

Way-finding Signs for Westside

Kansas City, MO – If you are an out-of-town visitor or even a Kansas City resident looking for the Westside, it might be hard to find, as no signs currently point to the Westside. Alfredo Parra, community activist, is looking to change that.

Parra has been working for months to raise awareness about the lack of signs pointing to the heavily Hispanic Westside. "We are a vibrant, beautiful community. If Westport and Quality Hill merit signs, then the Westside does too. We want people to come to the Westside to discover the beautiful neighborhood and shops," Parra says.

Parra launched a campaign to install signs that say "Bienvenidos al Westside." Petitions to support the installation of such signs have been placed at local restaurants and shops. By mid-September Parra hopes to have over 1,000 signatures.

The city of Kansas City, Missouri, began to put up Way-finding signs in 2003 to direct visitors to tourist attractions. A wave of signs popped up around certain areas. A second, later phase added signs in the renowned 18th and Vine jazz district, a historically black neighborhood overlooked in the first installation of signs. Currently, twelve city districts are included in the Way-finding program.

According to Dennis Gagnon, public information officer for the Department of Public Works, the Westside would need to become a district itself to be included in the Way-finding program. For this to happen, a City Council member would have to sponsor an ordinance in which the Westside becomes the 13 th district in the program. Parra hopes that "one or both of the Councilwomen representing our district, Beth Gottstein or Jan Marcason, step up to the plate."

In addition, Parra approached Nancy Bass of Dynamic Displays to put up a sign that will say "Bienvenidos al Westside" on a billboard at 17 th and Jefferson. This billboard is very visible to southbound vehicular traffic on I-35 as well as to vehicular and pedestrian traffic near the 17th and Jefferson location. Bass secured the use of the billboard at no cost to the community. Adolfo Martinez graciously donated the beautiful original artwork to be used on the sign. John Fierro, Executive Director of Mattie Rhodes Center, helped to sponsor the sign.

The sign is scheduled to go up on Tuesday, September 4.

An earlier sign off I-35 at the West Pennway exit which directed visitors to the Crossroads District was taken down after residents complained about the omission of the Westside. Mayor Funkhouser promised residents that another sign would be erected. Parra has communicated with Crispin Rea, aide to the Mayor, who says that the Mayor supports the community's desire to rectify this omission.

"Signs are part of the urban fabric," says Parra. "Good signage can make people aware of unique, culturally diverse neighborhoods that await exploration."