letters to the editor
In defense of firefighters
To the editor:
I am writing in regard to the several disparaging and often blatantly false statements made about the Tonganoxie City Fire Department since Wednesday night's fire.
My husband is a volunteer for the department, and I am on the auxiliary's board of directors.
To every person who has made a negative remark about these men and firefighters from other departments that responded, I say shame on you.
How dare you insult men and women who are willing to put their lives in danger while you sit warm and snug in your easy chairs. These people all have full-time jobs, spouses and children that they leave behind to go help complete strangers in their time of need. Unless you are willing to stand and face the flames yourself, I suggest you keep your mouth shut, except to say thank you.
Survey about apartments
To the editor:
In an article in the Feb. 16 Lawrence Journal-World about a fire that destroyed a fourplex at Cedar Hills Apartment Complex in Tonganoxie, Sheryl Krzanowsky, regional manager for First Management, was quoted as saying, "We have not had any electrical problems out there" and "There have been no maintenance issues that have been unaddressed."
As a previous tenant at Cedar Hills and as the sister of one of the fire victims, I question the credibility of this statement and many others in newsletters and newspapers by First Management's staff.
On Feb. 17 and 18, my sister and I knocked randomly on doors at the complex. I had a survey regarding service requests and First Management.
I had the survey prepared in an affidavit format and had the people I interviewed swear they were telling the truth. I am a Kansas notary public, and I witnessed and notarized each statement.
I expected people to be reluctant but I was welcomed in and greeted warmly.
Of 19 units surveyed, 11 stated they have had electrical problems. Five of those 11 stated they reported the electrical problems to First Management, which did not respond or when they did it sometimes took weeks to months. Even when the complaints were addressed, many of those interviewed stated First Management did not correct the problem. Six of the families interviewed did not have working smoke alarms. All 18 of the 19 families interviewed stated First Management has never inspected or replaced their smoke alarms.
Many tenants who have had electrical problems and other maintenance issues stated they were afraid to complain or report problems because they didn't want to get evicted or they got tired of complaining without any response. Many interviewed also feared First Management would retaliate by raising rents.
We will report our findings to the Tonganoxie City Council. According to the Journal-World article, Tonganoxie Fire Chief Charlie Conrad stated "the city would have handled things differently had it heard more complaints." We have plenty of them and hope the city will adopt ordinances that will allow an inspector to "be aggressive to remedy problems."
Downtown owners' views
To the editor:
When City Manager Chris Eppley got permission from the Fourth Street merchants to start the downtown project, he selected a committee of business owners to represent all merchants. This committee was composed of six members who were to select sidewalk designs, brick patterns, lightpoles and make recommendations on costs. As the committee approved these items, we were given probable costs. Since the business owners were to be responsible for only the sidewalk portion within the benefit district, our share was to be $300,000 plus half the bonding costs. Mr. Eppley told us we could pay our assessments up front, or add it to our taxes over a 20-year period. He also said he was applying for a grant that would cut our share of the cost to $150,000. Documents we got from Mr. Eppley from then on stated $150,000 as our cost. The majority of property owners thought this to be an acceptable agreement.
When the project was completed, and costs were assigned, we were hit with $294,342, a figure totally unacceptable because it would double the taxes on Fourth Street properties. Mr. Eppley had moved to another job by this time, and business owners now had to deal with a new city administrator, Chris Clark. When we asked how such huge cost overruns had come about, city's attitude was that projects always cost more than expected and we should quit asking questions and just pay the bill.
The refusal of city officials to provide requested information by business owners led to the organization of a meeting of Fourth Street business owners by Roger Shilling, Jean Lenahan and Don Pelzl. Seventeen business owners attended this meeting and asked the three organizers to negotiate with the city in an effort to get them to honor our original agreement of $150,000. Representing all property owners, Shilling, Lenahan and Pelzl filed suit against the city requesting that the city honor the original agreement.
Although an agreement has been reached, property owners are still seeking answers to some troublesome questions, which we feel need to be answered before assessments are certified to the county clerk.
N. Jean Lenahan, Lenahan Hardware; Roger Shilling, Shilling Electric; and Don Pelzl, Pelzl True Value.
That small-town appeal
To the editor:
I moved to the Tonganoxie area several years ago to get out of the rat race of the city. I could have moved anywhere in the metropolitan area but I choose Tonganoxie because of the small-town appeal.
I love reading the Tonganoxie Mirror to keep abreast of what's going on in the community. But lately I have read several articles on how several members of the city want to raise taxes for one local project or another, and now today I read how our chief of police wants more stoplights and a lower speed limit along 24-40.
I have no problem with these for safety sake, but I'm afraid that one morning I'll wake and drive through Lenexa West. Taking 10 minutes to travel one mile through a half-dozen stoplights, with a speed limit of 20 mph on a four-lane interstate road.
I'm scared one evening I'll come to downtown Tonganoxie, and find 22 different restaurants lining main street with a gas station on every corner.
I'm worried that Tonganoxie will lose that small-town appeal that drew me here to begin with.
I hope we don't turn into a remote Johnson County city, I would like to see this city grow, but grow at a controlled rate and with a little forethought as to what this city will be like in 10 to 20 years.