Hearne: The Real Reason Hallmark Shut Down Crown Center Country Club

It only took Crown Center 14 years to get a clue….

Because it was back in the summer of ‘98 that the Kansas City Health Department cautioned the Hallmark-owned upscale shopping center about allowing “swimmers” in its fountains.

Actually, I was the one who called attention to the matter after learning that Hallmarkers were derisively referring to the outdoor fountain as the “Crown Center Country Club,” owing to it’s popularity as an inner city kiddie magnet.

Funny thing was, after years of doing everything it could to shoo kids and urban teens away from its movie theaters, the last thing Crown Center wanted was throngs of urban youth and their parents publically bathing right outside its front door.

However rather than be party-poopers and possibly appear racist, Crown Center chose to put up with the practice all these years.

Until yesterday…

That’s when Crown Center declared the fountains off limits to the swimsuit crowd

See, according to Crown Center, suddenly there are safety issues and health issues because the water has tested positive for unsafe bacteria recently. So new signs are going up warning waders to steer clear.

So why the controversy now?

This deal would have probably been shut down 20 years ago except the Health Department didn’t have jurisdiction because it’s a fountain, not a swimming pool. The Health Department told me as much.

“In an open fountain like that, there can be contamination from different sources – animals, birds, little children in diapers and defecation,” former Health Dept. industrial hygiene and safety manager E.J. Olomiye cautioned. “I wouldn’t allow my kids to swim in that type of system that was not designed for swimming because there are many possibilities that they could get some type of contamination.”

Crown Center’s defense: it had signs even back then forbidding frolicking in the fountains.

And it conceded the fountains weren’t designed for bathing.

Now let’s take the gloves off and call it like it is.

None of the Crown Center merchants I’ve spoken with over the years have been supportive of public use of the fountains by swimmers. They know full well that dripping wet kids in baby speedos aren’t likely to pop into upscale stores and drop a bunch of dough. Let alone the Crown Center Country Club set.

Nor do they want them to.

Upscale shopping centers want upscale shoppers, not soaking wet, underage kids who look like they just got busted by the fashion police at Oceans of Fun.

Check out Kandace’s comment, for instance, on the Star’s version of this story:

“I’m saddened that this will be a loss for those who like free water park attractions, but if it discourages the great unwashed from loitering, I may go back to Crown Center and spend some money! Plus, I have been very put off (by) the fountain area due to the obvious way the fountain was being treated as an urban lakefront. Not so great to see the toddlers running around with sodden diapers or, even worse, totally bare butt in that fountain. Not to mention the barely clad adults.”

And this isn’t the first time – nor likely the last – Crown Center has battled urban teens and kiddies.

Oh and don’t assume that just because grandparents.com placed the fountain on its list of “101 things to do in Kansas City,” that the kids are all clean-cut types just because they’re young.

Allow me to share with you recently retired Kansas City police officer Jan Zimmerman’s take on some of the movie-going kiddies at Crown Center a handful of years back.

"The shocking thing is these little kids are just rude and nasty and they use lots of profanity," she told me. "I mean, Jiminy Christmas. They weren’t overturning police cars or setting anything on fire or
anything like that. They just were causing a disturbance and refusing to leave.”

Another officer’s take:

"It started at the movie theaters, then they went out into the foyer, then it spilled outside by the fountains and the skating rink," she said. "Once we spread ’em out they were running. They were just wild, running, screaming, pushing each other. Then they’d get on top of the bus shelter and kind of bang on it…

“I really commend our officers for being patient and using a lot of self-restraint. I mean, it’s hard enough to take that from adults – but children – especially when you have a 6-year-old calling us assholes. My question is, where are the parents?"

Where indeed.

Make no mistake, Crown Center doesn’t want to babysit people’s kids, they want to sell them stuff.

Legos and fish toys, to name two. But it sure as heck doesn’t wants urban kids hanging out and loitering any more than the Plaza, Westport or Power & Light does.

It’s really very simple.

The only puzzling part of this jigsaw puzzle is why Hallmark put up with all this country club stuff in the first place – let alone for all these years. Why didn’t it simply enlist the Health Department to test the water long ago, when it was obvious it was probably unsafe?

And exactly who did the testing this time out anyway? Somehow the investigative reporters at the newspaper and TV stations forgot to ask that question.

So let me guess; the swimming pool engineers and health experts on the payroll at Crown Center?

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16 Responses to Hearne: The Real Reason Hallmark Shut Down Crown Center Country Club

  1. Hearne late the the news again says:

    Hearne shows up late again
    Too late Hearne. Everybody already covered this story.

    Please get back to your vacation.

  2. smartman says:

    Brokeback Fountain
    Enough with whitey picking on the knee grows. That water has been filthy for years. Hell, even highly chlorinated water in public swimming pools is unsafe. You can only put so many people in a pool before the chlorine and other chemicals reach a point of diminishing returns. Lots of nasty stuff from the anus, vag and wieners floating around in there.

    File this under Risk Analysis and Mitigation. With the recent addition of the aquarium and lego land the increased crowds, of all colors, was making it more likely the fountain area would be the scene of a tragic or perhaps fatal accident.

    This is not all that different from Mikey Doomberg cracking down on salt, cooking oils, smoking, soda, popcorn and milk in NYC. At some point you gotta blow the whistle to protect your self interests. Bottom line, thanks to public education, or a lack thereof, most people are too stupid to make wise choices about their, health, safety and well being. At that point the Mighty Whitey must step in and redefine the rules of engagement, ostensibly, for the greater good of us all.

  3. paulwilsonkc says:

    Smartman, I’d PARTIALLY disagree with you…
    …but only paritally. I took my kids there 20 years ago. Same water. Same slipping hazzards. Same everything. This has been a standard go to activity at least ONCE each summer for my kids when they were little. Whats changed? Crown Center went on the decline, not much happening. I couldn’t even buy a decent cigar there any more. But now…. we have Leggos and we have giant tanks of FISH. They are now remarketing to upscale white familes who can come down and enjoy something that has an appeal once again instead of CC making its path half way to becoming Indian Springs. Now, its going to LOOK worse across from little kids building little toys and pressing their face up against the glass watching fish swim by.

    With that as a background, theres no new hazzard potential there from a law suit stand point. Nothing new. Here’s something else thats not new. The unemployment rate for black teens in 1965 was 29%, today it’s 43%. Out of wedlock birth rates are too embarrassing to even publish here, it will generate calls of racism from some on here who think they are well read, great philosophers and have a massive readership following. I’m sure the CC people were always pissed about what was going on at the fountains, but it matter more now than it did a year ago, prior to Leggos and Fishies.

    Since the days of Johnson, policies like welfare have only worsened the problem for blacks by rewarding black women with taxpayer dollars for raising fatherless children. Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s report it reads like it was written yesterday rather than nearly 50 years ago. “In a word, the tangle of pathology is tightening

  4. the dude says:

    I can understand
    a quick run through the fouinatins to cool off (read: once) on a hot day outside but when people bring the whole herd clad in SWIMSUITS, ya gotta shut it down, it is not a public pool. The reason they are shutting it down now is that peole are actually returning to attend the attractions and the poor trash thinks the fountain is a free public swimming pool. Wrong again poor trash.

  5. smartman says:

    Wilson, I have a simple view about water. If I won’t drink it, I won’t bathe or swim in it. Even Jesus had the good sense to walk on it. Last thing I want is some little bacteria doing the backstroke up my pee hole and rotting my brain. I’ve got absinthe for that.

  6. paulwilsonkc says:

    Amen, Smartman….
    ….yet another difference between myself and Jesus; He walked on water, I pass water.

    As a side note, I enjoy when someone who has been proven a pathological liar more times than I can count asks you to lay low because he’s having lunch with someone who knows YOU are a “POS con man”. Thats rich. I’ve taken the position of total IGNORE in the comments. I’m glad some of you have taken up the load of the heavy lifting. And for that, I thank you.

  7. dr. berry says:

    from the looks of the ladies
    you’ve done/are doing mr. smartman…you have more than dirty water to worry about
    screwing up your dick. See a free clinic today!!!!!!!

  8. PB says:

    What Defines
    Urban Kid? Seems to just be the latest euphemism for black from those who want to say it, but just don’t have the tummy to. The CC fountains frollicking always seemed a little low rent/unsafe to me (I always kept my kids out), but whenever I’ve been down there it seemed to be a damn rainbow coalition of water bugs running in and out of those jets. So again, do we have the home addresses of all these users or is it just assumed that they’re all from a more diverse part of the urban core than I’m aware of?

    Oh the horror Kandace had to endure just to visit the Sock Shop in Crown Center. Dark-skinned kids flitting about in their Underoos! It’ll now be safe for her to once again overspend for that Kangaroo-hide purse in the Aussie Store or find other treasures like a faux-vintage Hamm’s Beer sign at the Nostalgia Shop. Upscale shopping, are you fucking kidding me? Crown Center has been a completely irrelevant shopping district since damn near it’s inception and anybody that goes there to destination shop is either an idiot or apparently isn’t Home Shopping Network savvy.

  9. Hearne says:

    Late, huh?
    For what? Running a Crown Center press release and a graph about what a nearby snow cone salesman thinks?

    I’d say I was early…. waaaaay early. Plus the only one to report on the health department aspect of the deal and possible racism. I suggest you stick to writing (and I guess reading) press releases and leave the in depth stuff to somebody else.

  10. Harley says:

    PB you broke dick looser!
    I practically live at Crown Center
    because I can aford to shop their
    you … loosers
    Dont blame me four having
    the money so I spin
    with the world.
    No upscale shoping? ….Get your fat
    unactive ass of the lazy boy and go.
    Finishings for Her? I buy stuff for…
    all my bithces their!
    The Kansas City Fudge Shop? OK, maybe furst time…
    i screwd up when
    my NE side buddies….. told me to go
    if…. i liked my fudge packed, but…
    it was still great….
    I went again when my ass stopped hurting.
    …mr Fudge was surtainly
    bigger tahn Mr Glazer sluuuuurp….
    They have bobble head of me….
    in The Best Of Kansas City. Why?
    Because I’m the wheel that makes
    this city turn. I’m bigger than Galazer
    least in that way.
    I went to Crown Center the same night I didnt
    go to
    that rainbow zoofest thing I
    bragged about when
    wasnt really there.
    You woodnt know upscale if it
    hit you in the ass.
    Me? I pursonofy upscale
    broke ass mofo

  11. Super Dave says:

    As having already spoken out about this I will repeat what I said again.

    As having been and still am more or less a part of property management, I see the real side to this issue. I over see 100’s of thousands of gallons of swiming pool water for a private group and and have more or less treated and advised on pool water treatments for 40 years. The fountain for sure isn’t set up to treat the water so that is a valid point. Smartman is very correct there is all kinds of nasty things within that water at Crown Center. The parents who say with proud smiles how they have taken their children there more or less shock me with their ignorence. To that I say would you let 50 people use a swimming pool in your own backyard who had poor bathing habits, think it’s ok to pee in your water or was wearing diapers filled with feces on?

    The part I don’t understand is how people get all pissed off when someone who owns something says you can’t play on it anymore and the public comes out in masses saying oh that is wrong you have no right to do as you please with something you own. Think of it this way are you going to leave your car sitting by the curb for who ever to come and use it when they want? I doubt it but if anyone else wants some control over what they own people get all pissy. If it bothers you so bad just do a boycott of Crown Center and never go there again.

    If your the type a person who thinks people have the right to do as they please on anothers place then by all means post your home address here so we can all come and run around in your front yard doing as we please and cooling off in your sprinkler when it comes on saying we have the right to do so just because it’s there.

  12. HARLEY says:

    its pretty simple…
    we don’t frequent crown center. we don’t frequent the old hyatt (used to on new yearseve for their once great
    parties)…we don’t frequent power and light (except on a few occasions…we decided that we can find
    everyuthing we want in joco and if we can’t find it there…we leave the city itself.
    Unfortuantely everyone wasn’t raised the same. I don’t know trhe situation there but crown center
    is old news. It was old news 20 years ago. Its beaten down and it offers nothing except some
    stores that sell essentially stuff i really don’t need or want.
    end of story gang. Insteead of spending 100 inches discussing it…move out.
    How many times have you been there in the last 10-20 years. Proably not many times.
    It’s someone elses problem…the urban youths will continue to frequent that area…it will die
    and business will move south to where its clean.
    Outside of some bad areas in olathe…and some rough areas in northern joco…we live a
    very great lifsteyle where we are. don’t need corwn center or downtwon. NOthing there we
    haven’t seen before.
    Itsa fact of life…and it’s only going to get worse as the migrationof minorities continues in
    record numbers. Nothing you can do to stop it…they will run america in 6-8 years..
    its coming…get used to it.

  13. BarKeeper says:

    Now…Get ‘Em Out of the Public Fountains
    The City needs to follow suit and enforce ordinances about staying out of public fountains and those reflecting pools too. There are at least seven or eight public pools and wading pools designed and staffed for such activity.

    People put their kids and themselves in these unsanitary places with great regularity. Most of the fountains and pools have electric wiring, lights, and a ton of broken beer bottles in them. But idiots use them for swimming pools anyway. Cops drive by like they were oblivious to the situation….enhancing the old dougnut jokes.

    The City will cry like a baby when they pay a big settlement to somebody who gets cut or electrocuted, but they won’t put an ounce of effort into prevention. And as Yogi said, “You can look it up”.

  14. hardly says:

    eye dew awl my shopeng at croun centur
    eye by mi toylut paipur their
    mi ky jeley
    mi prepurashun h
    mi delouser
    mi jock itch creem
    mi xtra smal condums
    mi bypolar meds
    evun mi duct tape
    u lsers shop at thritf stoors

  15. expat says:

    There is nothing upscale about Crown Center
    Have you guys seen the shops inside? Phew….

  16. Hearne says:

    I beg to differ…
    Clearly Crown Center has seen better days. Look at the competition!

    However, they have a number of upscale shops there still and it’s hardly a dive. Hallmark would never allow it.

    Unfortunately Hallmark is going thru a similar transition as newspapers and magazines and is struggling to find a new business model. Good luck to them, but at thgis point it ain’t looking good.

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