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Opinion: Kearney cruisers can add to street redevelopment

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Some said we wouldn’t show up, but we did.

After Springfield City Council’s April 17 unanimous approval to support Cruise Kearney, there were skeptics who wondered if car enthusiasts would gather to revive the classic event that was banned in 1993.

What they didn’t know is that the Queen City has a thriving car community, and it showed.

Now, the second Friday of every month, car owners of all makes and models drive the street and hold meets at welcoming businesses with ample parking space. My husband and I are included, and it’s become a monthly tradition to drive our 1997 Corvette to north Springfield to spend the evening on Kearney Street.

According to the city website, the decision to reinstate this event came in part as an effort to revitalize Kearney Street. At recent public meetings, city officials called on property owners to build and remodel on Kearney in response to the May completion of a $100,000 corridor study by St. Louis-based Peckham Guyton Albers & Viets Inc.

“There’s a lot of opportunity for Kearney,” Springfield Senior Planner Olivia Hough told Springfield Business Journal in a September article. “There are many properties for sale and good traffic flow.”

Land Clearance for Redevelopment Authority approved the redevelopment plan, and the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission is now considering it. The plan is tentatively slated to head to city council chambers in December for a public hearing before a vote.

As business owners and the city plan the redevelopment of Kearney, I think they should continue to take into consideration how Cruise Kearney can contribute to the street’s promotion. And to back this up, a portion of the city’s resolution, which reinstated the event, says it well: “Cruising is a community tradition that brings neighborhoods together while promoting civic engagement and encouraging tourism.”

Each Cruise Kearney event I’ve attended has been respectful and orderly. And although car groups can get an often preconceived reputation for being disorderly, the majority of us simply enjoy cars and driving cars with other people who enjoy cars – and that’s the crowd I see at Cruise Kearney.

I’ve attended car meets across the United States, and it’s interesting and inspiring to see how these types of events draw diversity. People of all walks of life who share the common connection of a genuine interest in cars tend to create an amiable and welcoming culture.

The event also draws spectators who sit along the street to watch the cars roll by – and I see them often visiting the businesses on Kearney. So do the car owners.

Like I said, Springfield has a thriving car community and Cruise Kearney makes the street come alive. It’s a valuable asset to the promotion of Kearney’s redevelopment and I get excited imagining what the view out my windshield could be on Friday nights.

Springfield Business Journal Features Editor Hanna Smith can be reached at hsmith@sbj.net.

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