The Waldo branch of the Kansas City Public Library system, at 201 E 75th St, would like more space to serve local residents. It’s currently the second busiest location; the Plaza branch has the top spot. Preliminary talks are underway between the library and the Kansas City Public School district about a move to the old Bingham school site, at 7618 Wyandotte (77th and Wornall, behind the Firestone Tire building).
I recently spoke with Eric Gunderson, President of the Waldo Tower Neighborhood Association to find out more. Last November, he hosted a public meeting at the library to start a dialogue with neighbors about possible plans. Shannon Jaxx from KCPS and library consultants were present. The site of the former school is 7.5 acres, and a new library building would use up just part of the empty lot. The current building on 75th St has 14,000 SF; a new building would ideally be between 22-25,000 SF and include useable outdoor space for patrons. Inside, there would be a larger, dedicated children’s area; a computer lab, an array of different sized meeting rooms and more storage space. The library and consultants feel that with the current building maintenance issues (leaky roof, space constrictions, etc), it would be less expensive to build a brand new building. Currently the library is funded by a portion of KCMO resident property taxes; it was stated in the meeting that no new taxes would be needed to fund a new structure. No building plans have been drawn up; at this stage, it’s all talk and figuring out various options. Eric says if the relocation does happen, it would be at least five years, probably more, before the new library opened. He reports that there wasn’t any opposition to a new building; the challenge would be some increased traffic in the residential area, as the entrance to the site is off Wyandotte and not Wornall.
I also asked Eric about other significant happenings in Waldo; we talked about all the new locally owned businesses that chose Waldo as their home—so many in just the past couple of years, despite the pandemic. The biggest changes are happening in the streetscapes: along Gregory from Wornall to Oak, you’ve seen the construction workers and detours as KCMO installed “traffic calming” elements like curb extensions and a dedicated bike lane, .all of these improvements will make this area more pedestrian/bike friendly. In the near future, major changes are coming along Wornall from 74th-79th St, especially in the busy area in front of Waldo Pizza. Plans include new streetlights, water main replacement, a new roadway, parking lot improvements, and more. You can read more details about these plans at the Waldo neighborhood website under Resources. And you can keep up with other Waldo news/meetings at the site as well.