Archive for Wednesday, December 27, 2000

Perspectives at the end of 2000

December 27, 2000

As Tonganoxie exits the year 2000, residents may wonder where the next century will lead.

John Franiuk, mayor of Tonganoxie, said continued growth is inevitable.

"I don't think there's any way we can stop the growth as long as there are people willing to subdivide ground and build homesites on it," he said.

Research at city hall predicts that urban sprawl will take a bite of available ground.

"We think that within the next five years our area will require another 30,000 developed acres to support new homes," Franiuk said.

It's important, he said, to make the transition work so that in the long run the city is something desirable to see 100 years from now.

"We need to keep developing good rules, and continue planning above and beyond what's been required in the past to adopt guidelines and open communication with developers so that we're all on the same page," Franiuk said.

Franiuk stressed the importance of industry, as well as housing.

"Along the way, as we grow rooftops and we grow houses, we must grow our business and our industrial community as well," Franiuk said. "We need to have diversity. I'd love to have 10,000 people living in our town, but I don't want them all working in Kansas City or Lawrence."

Kent Needham, president of First State Bank and Trust of Tonganoxie, said the future of Tonganoxie, whether it will grow more into a city of its own right, or be an arm of Kansas City, is up to Tonganoxie residents.

"I believe that our future is ours to determine," Needham said. "There's the opportunity and it depends on how we as a community rise to the challenge."

The city will continue to face important issues related to growth, he said.

"Where we will be in the next century depends upon our leaders, our future leaders and the decisions that we make."

Richard Erickson, superintendent of the Tonganoxie school district, predicted that within the next three to five years, the school district would see growth. His goal, he said, is to be ready when it comes.

"Our priority right now is to continue to work to improve students' achievement scores on the state and national assessment tests," Erickson said, "And to continue to improve the appearance of our facilities to renovate, refurbish and remodel."

Meanwhile, Tonganoxie is becoming more of a destination for home seekers.

"More and more, Tonganoxie is improving the services for its citizens," Erickson said. "Obviously as you look at Fourth Street and improvements made at the school and parks, you realize that Tonganoxie is a progressive community and it's moving forward."

John Lenahan, owner of Lenahan's Hardware, describes himself as "the oldest businessman on Fourth Street."

Born in 1923 in Tonganoxie to parents who also were born here, Lenahan considers himself an "old-timer."

Today from his store's broad windows that front Fourth Street, Lenahan keeps an eye on the changing city. He anticipates growth.

"We're going to have a lot of nice people moving here just like it has been in the past," Lenahan said. "And we're going to have a good-sized population here before it's done."

The city experienced a swell of growth from the 1880s until the start of World War I, Lenahan said.

"That's when the growth slacked off, until the last few years when it started growing again. And it's going to continue to grow. This is changing times. We've got multiple changes in the population density in this country there's more people, and every place is going to expand, it appears to me. And we're all living longer here I'm about 80 and I'm still in business."

There was a hint of pride in his voice as Lenahan, the patriarch of Fourth Street, quietly added, almost as an afterthought:

"This is my town."

And so, you have it "Our town's" future as best described by some of those, who like you, look at the growth and wonder where it will lead.

One thing is certain, at least in the eyes of Lenahan, who said:

"Progress, as long as it's in the right direction, is always good."

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