KANSAS CITY, MO. – Every time Phillip Thayer steps out onto his patio, his view is of old car parts and abandoned furniture, the result of an ongoing illegal dumping at the Robandee Mall.
Sometimes Thayer catches people in the act, as he has done recently.
“It’s clear as day, they can see me there, you know, and they just stopped and started unloading stuff, and they had a whole truck full of stuff,” he said. said. “When I started filming, they were kind of going around behind the truck.”
He says the door leading to the back of the mall can’t do much, as it’s usually left unlocked.
Neighbors think the waste from the vacant space is a danger to public safety.
“It could be a fire,” said Brandon Wright, co-chair of Hickman Mills United Neighborhoods. “I mean, you have people breaking into buildings in this area, and even raising four-wheelers into some buildings.”
Wright adds that over the years his neighborhood association has filed several 311 complaints and contacted council members Rayna Parks-Shaw and Lee Barnes.
KSHB 41 News did the same, only Parks-Shaw responded.
In an emailed statement, she wrote:
Hello Andres, thank you for your email. I understand the neighborhood’s frustration. Action has been taken with the owner and he is working to clean up the illegal dumping as it occurs. Unfortunately, individuals continue to illegally dump on the property. I worked with the community and the owner to clean up illegal dumps on the site. We also implemented strategies to stop street racing happening. I’ll defer to the Ward Director on their action plan in the future. It is copied to this e-mail. As a policy maker, I introduced and supported legislation to double the number of bulky item pickup appointments and increase the number of dumpsters in the neighborhood in an effort to reduce the amount of illegal dumping in the community. Thanks again for the opportunity to respond.
Rayna Parks Shaw
Via text message, the Robandee Mall owner said he was working to clean up the mess and was trying to get a dumpster out of the site.
But the company he works with is late.
“They’ve been compliant, particularly over the last six to eight months,” said John Baccala, spokesman for the KCMO’s wards department. “The problem we have from a city perspective is that there’s no consistency in overseeing the property or maintaining the property.”
Some neighbors would like to see the city install illegal dump cameras around the mall.
But in turn, the city says it has a limited number of cameras and its private property.
“We would love for the mall owner to put them on the property and then at that time turn over the video he receives to our illegal dumping investigators. That would definitely help,” Baccala said.
In the meantime, neighbors hope the vacant space will be demolished or redeveloped into a community center
“You have to deal with the blight and once we deal with it, the businesses will start to come back, the economy will start to come back to south Kansas City,” Wright said.