Archive for Wednesday, June 8, 2005

City officials brainstorm about Tonganoxie’s future

June 8, 2005

Tonganoxie needs a new city hall, police department, maintenance shop and, eventually, a new firehouse, city officials said Monday during city council work session.

When those buildings can be built, however, is far from certain.

Council members, as well as planning commissioners, city consultants and representatives of the police and fire departments and the city superintendent were on hand for one thing -- to brainstorm.

The group discussed everything from roads, economic development and annexation to water, parks and promoting the city.

Council member Ron Cranor brought up the need for a larger city hall. But cost also was a concern. He referred to a city budget from two years ago that showed potential city projects in future years. A new city hall, with an estimated price tag of $600,000 was tentatively budgeted for construction in 2006.

"I just know that it's something we need to do," Cranor said about building a new structure.

City Administrator Mike Yanez discussed putting more than one department in a building, which is commonplace for some cities. In Lansing, for instance, city government and the police department share a building.

If the complex were to become a reality, Yanez asked council members whether the facility should remain downtown.

"Absolutely," Velda Roberts replied.

Parks and recreation seemed to be a major topic at the meeting also.

Mayor Dave Taylor said that when he came to Tonganoxie in 1985, the community had an older overall population. But now, he said, there are more young people.

"We need to think about the children," Taylor said.

He said he'd like to see more students who graduate from come back from college and raise families in Tonganoxie.

Taylor discussed projects that would interest the younger population, such as a BMX or a skate park.

Roberts, however, was not, in favor of that.

"We listened to three years of that," Roberts said, referring to teenagers' efforts to organize a skate park. "I hope we don't have to listen to that again."

Another type of park, with walking trails, a playground and tennis courts, has been a plus for Tonganoxie.

"Chieftain Park is a wonderful park," Yanez said.

He mentioned adding more parks as the city gained more residential subdivisions, with the possibility of generating money from developers.

"Sometime we might want to throw gasoline on the fire and look at park development fees," Yanez said.

Diane Bretthauer of the planning commission was concerned about who would take care of all the parks.

A park already has been constructed in the Stone Creek subdivision. City superintendent Butch Rogers said the city maintains that park.

Sidewalks also became a lengthy topic for discussion, especially with the school district building on Washington Street. City officials discussed the need for sidewalks throughout the city so children could safely walk to and from school.

The meeting wasn't complete without discussion of the possible Kansas Turnpike interchange south of Tonganoxie and how that will affect the city. That spurred annexation discussion for land south of Eagle Valley.

"As a city, as a whole, are we pro-growth or are we status quo?" Fire Chief Dave Bennett asked. "What are we out there doing to sell Tonganoxie?"

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