Waverly Pointe residents should approach their opposition to a proposed apartment complex in their neighborhood carefully.
More than 50 residents packed Gardner City Council chambers on Oct. 4 to voice their opposition to project that would see up to 48 apartments in three buildings constructed in their subdivision.
Many of the residents’ reasoning smacked of snobbery, and that’s certainly not the tone our community should project to the outside world.
From fears that it would make our school district look ghetto compared to our new rivals in the Eastern Kansas League to claims that parents in the apartment buildings would let their dirty kids run wild in the streets, it sounded like tripe from elitists.
Everyone can understand the residents’ desire to protect what is likely their largest investment – their homes – but there’s a way to give voice to those concerns without sounding like Paris Hilton forced to sleep on a lumpy bed.
It would be wise for the group to agree on one or two spokespeople who can be cautious and thoughtful in their wording. Several residents gave voice to their concerns in just such a manner citing concerns about renters versus home owners rather than concerns about how much the potential residents earned. Their arguments sounded well-reasoned and well-mannered.
We are not arguing that there isn’t cause for concern from such a proposed development. There is reason for alarm – especially since Waverly Pointe residents were mislead about exactly what kind of housing would eventually border their properties.
And we, too, worry about a large new number of transient residents with no long-term plans to call this community home. However, in the next few years, if projections are to be believed – the intermodal will bring 7,000 new jobs to this area. The majority of those jobs will pay between $9 and $12 per hour.
That’s a salary of less than $25,000. With two working adults, that’s less than $50,000 in one household. The median income in Johnson County is approximately $72,000, and the proposed apartment buildings would limit residents to incomes no more than 60 percent of the median household income in the county – about what two working adults at new intermodal jobs would earn.
If those jobs are all people new to town, they’re going to need to live somewhere. And that somewhere will be in someone’s backyard. We need to have these debates cautiously and carefully, so our new residents feel as welcome as Waverly Pointe residents did when they first moved to town.