Independence, MO – The Beem Family participated several weekends ago in what has become a fast family tradition: The L.I.N.K. Run.
June 12’s heat and humidity didn’t deter those who assembled for the 14th annual race, which supports scholarships for college-bound Independence School District students. Nor did it keep my wife, daughter and younger son from taking top honors.
Maggie, 12, won the gold medal for girls in her age division. Tom, 7, won the silver for boys in his group. And Kate, 41, took the bronze in her category.
I finished sans medal but did beat my 2009 time by a minute, and Joe opted to sleep in after a taxing week at soccer camp. So all of us went – or stayed – home happy.
The run started at Korte Elementary School, looped around Rotary Trail and hooked up with Rock Creek Trail before turning around at Country Club Trail and returning to the finish line in Rotary Park. L.I.N.K. Run organizers partnered this year with the Independence Parks and Recreation Department, which dedicated the first phase of the new Rock Creek Trail System at the run’s conclusion.
It was a great day for the Beem Family, and the experience stoked my civic pride. Without the Independence parks sales tax, which city voters approved in 1998 and renewed in 2002, the first phase of the Rock Creek trail system never would have been blazed.
Independence voters face another important decision on Aug. 3. The ordinance enabling the tax is up for renewal.
Your vote to maintain the tax won’t cost a penny. Instead, it will continue in 2011 a one-eighth of 1 percent local parks sales tax and a one-fourth of 1 percent storm water control sales tax, which was approved in 2000.
I know storm water control is important, and I’m passionate about trails. As a result, I strongly endorse the taxes’ renewal.
Local parks sales tax revenues will enhance current and enable new parks, trails and recreation facilities, fulfilling the Independence Parks and Recreation Master Plan. Storm water control sales tax revenues will continue protecting the Rock Creek and other watersheds.
Independence Public Works Director John Powell said the second phase of the Rock Creek trail system is under construction as part of a project to improve R. D. Mize Road from Hidden Valley to Eureka roads. Nearby, a new 1.2-mile trail connecting 39th Street to Pink Hill and R.D. Mize roads was recently completed. It will join the Little Blue Trace Trail, a Jackson County Park that runs along the Little Blue River, after the 39th Street Bridge over the river is replaced.
What excites me most about the taxes is their long-term impact: Parks tax revenues will eventually connect the Rock Creek and Little Blue Trace trail systems. The result will be a 30-mile trail experience – 13 on the Rock Creek trail system and 17 on the Little Blue Trace trail system.
I’m proud of the trail system that is growing in our city, and you should be, too. It enables great activities like the L.I.N.K. Run that engage our residents in the important work of essential community organizations. It also encourages positive physicals activity and promotes public health.
I encourage you to Vote YES for parks and storm water on Aug. 3. It’s the right thing to do.