by Stacy Wiedmaier and Ivan Foley
Some Parkville city officials have met with a development group studying the possibility of building a casino at Interstate 435 and River Road (Hwy. FF).
The Landmark has learned, though none of the parties are directly confirming, that Parkville mayor Kathy Dusenbery and alderman Deborah Butcher and Jim Brooks met with the interested developer recently at The National Golf Club in Parkville.
The possibility of a casino enterprise being constructed in Parkville has been discussed previously, though it was more than a decade ago. The city looked into the idea of attracting a casino and multiple restaurants near the downtown area around 1993, at a time when the riverboat casinos were first legalized in the state. In that era, after numerous votes by citizens, Parkville voters approved the idea of allowing a casino in the city limits.
The newest possibility is different in that it would be located a considerable distance from downtown Parkville. The city expanded its city limits several years ago with a large annexation. The area of I-435 and River Road was included in that annexation.
Proponents of the latest casino idea say the proposed location of I-435 and River Road would mean the casino would be further away from downtown Parkville than is the Argosy Casino, located in Riverside.
Joe Turner, city administrator, confirmed the fact that city officials have met with potential developers in the last 10 days. He said this party has shown a marked interest in constructing a casino and restaurants at the I-435 and the River Road corridor. Turner said he was not present at the meeting due to another engagement, but he is certain the mayor was in attendance.
“Many developers come in to discuss their ideas with us and we’re just listening to interested parties right now, that’s all,” said Turner. “We’re only in preliminary discussions and we are being non-specific at this point. If this idea does go forward, it would be a long time away.”
Turner said the property is not currently zoned for constructing such a large plan. There are several necessary steps that must be taken first, including an in-depth discussion by the board of aldermen which has not yet occurred. The board would make the final decision if the plan proceeds.
Onramps and offramps from I-435 would need to be constructed to serve the area. Supporters say these ramps would also benefit other parts of Parkville, including downtown, by providing easier access.
“To move forward with anything at this point, we would need some type of concrete plans from the interested parties,” Turner said. “The ball is definitely in their court and they have to make the next move if they’re interested. The plan would then go to the planning and zoning commission first, then the board of aldermen. This item has not been placed on an upcoming agenda for anyone to review.”
Turner said the city has not been approached by developers about casino development in recent years, at least since he has been employed by the city beginning in 2004.
He did not specify the names of a development company or specific individuals, only that they have met with “interested parties.”
One source told The Landmark the developer is from Colorado.
The I-435 and River Road area is in Ward 1. Deborah Butcher serves as the elected alderman in the ward. She said she is unaware of anything set in stone and has yet to see or hear definite plans for a possible casino.
“There have been no zoning permits issued and I have not been contacted by any casino operator because there is nothing out there,” Butcher said.
“This proposal, if it happens, would be totally different than the last one (in 1993.) Back then there were no casinos in this area and we were pushing to develop downtown when it was a ghost town. I am absolutely not for a casino being built downtown. I would never support that campaign again. We have worked too hard to revitalize our downtown for that to happen.”
Butcher said she is unsure what the public would think about a possible casino being built in the area. She said if the potential plans were presented to the city and the site was indeed near I-435 instead of the downtown area, she would be willing to listen.
“The responsible thing to do would be to look at the economic growth and potential revenue this city could gain,” she stated. “I’ll listen to any reasonable plan that could possibly bring quality revenue that doesn’t complicate our lifestyles.”
Neither the mayor nor Parkville community development director Sean Ackerson had returned The Landmark’s inquiry by press time.