April 20, 2018

Elaine McDermott: A Lasting Impression

This article originally appeared in the March/April issue of the Hyde Parker.

Elaine McDermott moved to 4012 Charlotte Street almost 34 years ago, and during her time in Hyde Park she made a big impact on her neighbors and the neighborhood itself. Moving to Kansas City from a small town in Iowa, Elaine says one of the first reasons she chose to get involved was to meet people. She worked on many neighborhood initiatives over the years, including serving on the HPNA Board, putting South Hyde Park on the National Historic Register, and volunteering on many of the Homes Tours. Elaine co-chaired the tour in 1989, and her own home was featured on the tour and in Star Magazine in 2002. One of Elaine’s most memorable projects was the long process of downzoning Hyde Park, which involved many city meetings and being very politically active on behalf of the neighborhood.

Elaine also worked with Neighborhood Housing Services (NHS) as a representative of South Hyde Park and later as president of the NHS board. Serving alongside neighbors and friends there, the partnership with this organization brought several beautification programs in Hyde Park. Among them were the installation of decorative urns throughout the neighborhood that we see adorned each year with colorful flowers, and the planting of hundreds of trees throughout Hyde Park. Elaine secured multiple grants to plant trees along residential streets and other areas.

Neighbors Kay Boehr and Dona Boley remember working together with Elaine on the Gillham Road Improvement Project, the plan responsible for bringing the updated playground to 41st and Kenwood and many other improvements that helped make our neighborhood and Gillham Park the shady, walkable, and family friendly area it is today. Speaking of their work together, Boehr recalls, “She was the energy that drove so many projects that made a huge difference in our neighborhood.”

Elaine is retiring this year from Kansas City Public Schools, and she will be moving to West Plaza. Her advice to neighbors interested in getting involved, “Show up and volunteer! There will always be someone who needs help, and there are always people willing to help. It’s a great way to meet your neighbors.”