Archive for Wednesday, March 21, 2001

Infrastructure work on tap in Tonganoxie

March 21, 2001

Growth seems to be inevitable, especially in Tonganoxie and southern Leavenworth County.

Tonganoxie has several projects planned in the next couple of years to prepare for additional increases in population. The city issued nearly 100 building permits in the year 2000, and with growth comes growing pains.

"First and foremost, we are going to have to deal with the sewer plant," Tonganoxie Mayor John Franiuk said. "If another 100 building permits come up this year, we are definitely going to need it to support that capacity."

City Administrator Chris Clark said that improvements to the city's sewer treatment plant should be complete by 2003.

"The plant is in need of both rehabilitation and expansion," Clark said.

The sewer plant project will cost about $2 million. Recently, the Tonganoxie City Council decided to seek a $400,000 federal Community Development Block Grant to help fund the improvements.

The plant has capacity problems that the city has to deal with. If it comes too close to capacity, the state would halt the issuance of building permits. Plans for increasing the plant's capacity would handle anticipated growth in the city for the next 20 years.

The city has been looking into making improvements to the sewer system for the past year. In December, the city engineer, Cecil Kingsley, said the sewer lines and plant needed about $4.7 million worth of attention. The price tag has been whittled down to about $2 million. The last renovation of the city's sewer plant was in 1978.

The city is in early discussions about building a new water treatment plant. Recently, the city purchased 65 acres near the Kansas River, just off Leavenworth County Road 25.

From there, Franiuk said, "we'll build the city as we need to. It's inevitable that we'll need to step forth and get ready for expansion."

Franiuk predicted that the city would see 135 to 140 building permits in 2001.

"One of the things to be critical of, as the new home stock rises, is that it very quickly changes the ability to borrow money from the state with the valuations also changing in the community," Franiuk said.

Another project coming soon includes the state's plans to improve the intersection of 24-40 and Kansas Highway 16 (Fourth Street). The work would stretch about 600 feet east and west of the intersection. Clark anticipates the renovation of the intersection should start in 2002.

Like every other city in the area, city officials are expecting the opening of Kansas Speedway to affect the community.

"The racetrack is going to have a big effect," Franiuk said. "I don't know how much it will. With it, we should start seeing more retail, shopping and office space, though. We are bound to see some new production, new restaurants and shopping coming to Tonganoxie."

The city administrator agreed.

"I wouldn't be surprised if, in the next year or two, we see more fast-food and quick-mart type stores move here," Clark said. "Once the racetrack opens, it's going to raise people's level of awareness in this area."

Clark said that several retail or discount stores have expressed interest in locating to Tonganoxie in the next few years.

"I'm expecting to see a lot more commercial activity in the city," Clark said. "I've had a lot of interest from the business sector in coming here."

The city has an inventory of commercial space to handle some new development, mostly on Tonganoxie's east side.

"Everybody seems to be buying in to the unique idea of cashing in on the conveniently country atmosphere here in Tonganoxie," he said. "There are some nice things to be had in the Tonganoxie area."

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