City of Lee's Summit forces kids to tear down fort - KAIT-Jonesboro, AR-News, weather, sports

City of Lee's Summit forces kids to tear down fort

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A group of kids learned a hard lesson about city codes Friday. Lee's Summit had to demolish the kids' creation because it wasn't compliant.

It all started with kids grabbing some scraps of wood and learning together how to build something, but Friday the Bobcats taught them a different lesson: you can't always keep what you want.

With a hammer in his hand, Myers Sharp and his buddies aren't just kids, they've got a job to do.

"Building, shoveling, and hammering," Ben McClure said.

The Pergola neighborhood kids built a fort on an empty lot with scraps from construction on the surrounding larger homes.

"They don't care what it looks like. It's not about outer beauty, it's about the fun, the cohesion between the kids," said neighbor Chris Pate.

But apparently someone else does care how it looks. The city of Lee's Summit got an anonymous complaint about the fort. Building inspectors checked it out and told the neighbors it didn't meet city code, so it had to come down.

"My 6-year-old was pretty mad and said he didn't want to live in the city of Lee's Summit anymore. So I could understand that, he was very emotional," said neighbor Kim Sharp.

When some of the kids were told about the order to demolish the fort, two of them even put together and signed a petition to the city, saying:

"Dear City, Please do not tear this house down! We have all worked for almost a year on it, for hours and hours. We have all had fun climbing on it, camping in it, having picnics in it. Many happy memories were forged here. We all hope that it won't be torn down. So please don't tear it down!"

"Much like a police officer does with traffic and many other things, we deal with properties, so when we come across a violation, we can't just turn our head and pretend we didn't see it, because we got a public complaint," said Mark Dunning, the director of the codes administration for the city.

Dunning said it's about keeping the neighborhood consistent and the fort is on a vacant lot, which isn't allowed. Plus, he said, there are safety concerns that start with trying to decide what would happen if someone got hurt at the fort.

"I'm kind of concerned when kids are climbing up on the roof, but there was always a parent here to watch and observe," Pate said.

After a pizza party on Friday celebrating the joy the fort brought to kids in the neighborhood, they and their parents had to watch it come down. But they know the lessons they learned there are with them for life and the kids are ready for round two.

"Build another fort and move it somewhere else," Ben said.

There are already plans in the works to build a new fort, meeting city code and even getting an architect involved.

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