Archive for Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Postal service selects Laming Road property

August 10, 2005

The U.S. Postal Service has decided that Tonganoxie's new post office should be constructed near the county annex, at Laming Road and Woodfield Drive.

In a letter to Mayor Dave Taylor that was received on Friday, a Denver-based project manager said the postal service chose a site at the southeast corner of Laming and Woodfield, just north of the Leavenworth County Annex. That tract is owned by Overland Park developer Steve Kelly.

For 30 days after the notice was posted, the postal service will accept written objections to the site. The objections must include reasons for the objection, according to Russ Rainey, project manager.

The site choice wasn't well-received at Monday's city council meeting.

Several weeks ago, the city sent a letter to the postal service urging that the new post office be built on East Fourth Street, keeping it close to the downtown area where the existing post office stands.

¢ Objections to the Laming Road and Woodfield Drive site for the new Tonganoxie post office may be mailed to: Vice President Facilities, c/o Keith LaShier, Western FSO manager; Western Facilities Service Office; 160 Inverness Drive West, Suite 400; Englewood, Colo., 80112-5005.

¢ Be sure to signify that you're writing about the Tonganoxie post office project and include specific reasons why you either favor or do not favor the recommended site.

Council members said they hadn't thought Laming Road would be the postal service's first choice.

"We sent a letter what we felt was the obvious solution for the problem and apparently our recommendation wasn't even put into consideration," said council member Ron Cranor. "I can't believe they had any recommendations for that site."

The council wants the postal service to reconsider its recommendation.

According to Ron Hubbard, Tonganoxie postmaster, the East Fourth site raised questions about flooding. The site is on the south side of Fourth, near East Street, if it were extended. The property is east of S&S Body Shop.

But Roger Shilling, who owns the land, disputed any worries about flooding.

"I've never had that under water," he said. "We had a concrete plant there at one time with dry storage, and they had never been bothered by water."

Shilling and Kenny Ketchum teamed up to submit a proposal to the post office for the tract on East Fourth.

Several weeks ago, the local postmaster and six other postal officials from Denver and Kansas City toured these four sites that officials had identified as possible post office sites:

  • Laming Road and Woodfield Drive. Hubbard said the access to that site is great. "It's a corner lot," he said. "We have access off Woodfield and Laming Road. We're just a stone's throw from the highway, which is great for the commuters, the people who come and go and pass through town." The land was flat, and the tract was large.

"That was kind of voted the all-around best one, we thought," he said.

  • East Fourth and East Street (extended), a site two to three blocks east of the Tonganoxie Fire Station.

"There was some concern about its proximity to the creek and the potential for flooding," Hubbard said. ''... That was the main concern against the East Fourth Street location."

  • Southwest of U.S. Highway 24-40 and Fourth Street (Kansas Highway 16), just south of the abandoned gasoline station. Hubbard said the selection committee was concerned about any soil problems at the site.

"We would have to take soil samples," he said. "We would have to see if there's a problem. We can do that."

He said it also was the smallest of the sites, and safety was a concern, trying to leave the site.

  • A pie-shaped tract near the southwest corner of Laming Road and Leavenworth County Road 5. This tract, Hubbard said, has a house on it. "That meant we would have incurred the additional cost of the demolition of the house," he said.

The shape of the lot also raised questions.

Hubbard said he expects to hear a lot of comments about the site selection during the next few weeks.

It's possible that work on a new post office could begin in February, he said. Construction would take six to eight months, depending on weather, so it's possible the new post office could be ready for occupancy in fall 2006.

Shilling said he's concerned about the postal service's recommendation of the site north of 24-40 highway. He and Ketchum teamed up -- pooling their properties -- to make a proposal to the postal service.

"As soon as East Street is built, it's going to be a main artery," he said. "It's going to attract a lot of traffic."

The city has said it's interested in developing East Street between Fourth and Pleasant streets to provide another north-south street connecting the new middle school site with the downtown area.

He said his site is in the center of town.

"It's readily accessible to the older people, and they don't have to contend with the highways and the stoplights that should be in place, but aren't," Shilling said.

He said concerns about flooding are unfounded, adding that his land is not in the floodplain.

Attempts to reach Kelly were unsuccessful.

-- Shawn Linenberger contributed to this story.

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