Archive for Wednesday, March 21, 2001

Cities in region poised to serve new residents

March 21, 2001

Several cities in the Tonganoxie area have been busily preparing during the past few years for the anticipated growth in southern Leavenworth County.

City officials believe that the construction of the Kansas Speedway racetrack in Wyandotte County along with increased interest in housing from residents of the Kansas City metropolitan area will mean a difference in their towns.

Cities are hoping to poise their municipalities to handle the growth, by expanding the services their towns can deliver. At times, it can be a costly endeavor, but city officials say they are hopeful the up-front expenses will pay dividends in the future.

Basehor

For the past year, the majority of Basehor's focus has been in developing a new sewer treatment plant.

The plant is the most visible accomplishment for Basehor in 2000, said Basehor's mayor, John Pfannenstiel. The plant has been in the planning stages since 1995. Actual construction of the plant began last August.

The new facility, which is northwest of the intersection of 155th Street and Parallel Road, is anticipated to resolve existing capacity problems and provide the capacity for expansion to accommodate development in the Basehor area.

"It should be dependable for up to 50 years," Pfannenstiel said. "It'll just depend on how much growth happens in the area."

The total cost of the sewer project is about $7 million, which is a far cry from the original projected cost of $3.5 million.

"A lot of things have changed," Pfannenstiel said. "Including the size of the project. At the time of the initial building, the labor pool was restricted."

Completion of the project's first phase is scheduled for this summer. The first phase should serve a population of more than 3,500. Once the final phase is carried out, it should support a population of at least 35,000.

Pfannenstiel also anticipates the completion of the plant to fuel even more growth in the Basehor area.

The mayor said there are about 4,000 acres of development prospects. Several developments are starting in the southern end of town.

"This year's going to be busy," Pfannenstiel said. "Developers are talking about a possible 1,500 to 2,000 lots up for approval this year."

The former figure should be developed in the next 10 years. The city has already approved 52 lots for development between State and Parallel. The city is working on approving 42 duplex lots and 48 single-family lots to the west.

Tonganoxie resident Burdel Welsh is also looking to utilize land just off 24-40 for more development.

His plan calls for 130 single-family homes on 12,500-square-foot lots. The proposed subdivision site is on the south side of U.S. Highway 24-40, about a half-mile west of 166th Street.

Last year, the city of Basehor issued more than 130 building permits. Twenty-four of those were for single-family homes.

Besides development, the city has various projects planned for 2001. The city will resurface asphalt and chip-seal streets. Many projects are planned for the city park. City officials plan to develop a Website for the city.

Bonner Springs

Bonner Springs has seen several projects completed and started in 2000.

A major project in Bonner Springs has been the construction of the Spring Creek sewer and drainage plant. The cost of the project was $4 million. The concept had been discussed for about the past 10 years. Two years ago, the city completed installation of an ultraviolet disinfecting system at its wastewater plant that cost about $585,000.

The projected cost of constructing Spring Creek a year ago was about $2.4 million. The sewer project includes a Sandstone sewer lift station, stormwater detention basin, an upgrade to a lift station and a plant interceptor. A sewer should extend east under Kansas Highway 7 with the hopes of development in that area.

City officials have been discussing reconstruction of Nettleton Avenue. The majority of the design plans for it are complete. The project should cost between $1 million and $2 million.

A new 8-inch water main and a 6-inch sewer main were installed along Kansas Highway 7, north of Riverview Road, to serve the new Kansas Department of Transportation facility, at 134th Street and Kansas Highway 7.

A new business, GCI Castings Inc., moved to the city's industrial park. And two existing two companies expanded.

The city expects property valuations to increase by about $1,600, to $46,297,906, in 2001.

"It seems like we have had just moderate growth residentially," Bonner Springs Mayor Ted Stolfus said.

The city issued just 21 single-family home permits in 2000.

But Bonner Springs welcomed a Price Chopper store at K-7 and Commercial Drive. Plans for a Wal-Mart Super Center, to be located at Kansas Avenue and K-7, were approved.

A school bond issue was approved that included a number of improvements to various school facilities.

A new fitness center was approved by the city council, which will be located between Clark Middle School and the high school. Improvements to both the middle school and high school are planned. Bonner Springs Elementary plans to build a small addition.

The city is working on developing a park, known as Centennial Park, downtown. A visitors' center and small historical museum should be housed there.

"I think things are going to boom with the racetrack," Stolfus said. "The valuations have shot up on account that you can't hardly find a place to rent or buy."

Linwood

The city of Linwood, with a population of just about 375, has not grown much in the past few years. Mayor Keith Schelert said that he hopes the population will increase by at least 25 percent in the next few years, though.

"We are still a small town," Schelert said. "But, we are trying to annex more land into the city so that we don't get stuck."

Linwood is nestled just north of the Kansas River, along Kansas Highway 32, in southern Leavenworth County. Schelert would like to move the city limits as far out as possible to keep everything else from enveloping the town completely.

A housing development, known as Peak Subdivision, will offer 11 homes to the Linwood community. The subdivision, to be located near Fifth and Main streets, will be getting utility work started soon. Both the utilities and streets will be built as a benefit district.

The city borrowed money for the work at a low interest rate to eliminate having to tack the extra costs onto the houses. This should be started in the spring, Schelert said.

Schelert said the city is also getting ready to expand the sewer lagoon on the north side of Kansas Highway 32.

The city plans to purchase property just south and west of existing sewer lagoons for $75,000 by the end of March.

Schelert said they were still in the process of getting numbers together for the cost of the entire project.

"I hope it will be up and running by 2003," he said.

McLouth

A sewer project is also the focus for McLouth this year.

Last year, the city began working toward the start of a $1.7 sewer project.

Because of weather and other complications from the winter, the project was not started until the first of this year.

The project will allow the current sewer ponds to be expanded and new lines run to a number of areas in the city.

Mayor Glenn Wear hopes that the new sewer will help open up development for the east side of this town.

Wear predicts that the project should secure the city for at least 20 years.

"It will take quite a bit of growth to overload it," he said.

Currently, the city is just working on the first phase of the project. The main thing left is laying the pipelines, Wear said. The city hasn't started taking bids for the second phase of the project yet.

Once the sewer project is complete, there is a possibility that 70 houses will be developed. McLouth's latest addition will be the completion of a church east of town.

"I hope we're done with projects for awhile," Wear said. "They're expensive and if we grow anymore for right now, we won't pass for low-income options."

The city received a low-interest loan from the Kansas Department of Health and Education, which is what it is using to pay for the sewer project. Wear's outlook on the future is a little shaky.

"We could grow fast or stay the same," he said. "I'm not sure."

He said homes in McLouth, which is in Jefferson County, west of Tonganoxie along Kansas Highway 16, were selling slowly.

"I would like to see the growth, though," he said. "I would like to see us get a few more businesses. That seems hard to come by. Nothing much has changed in the last year or two."

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