Archive for Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Tonganoxie views, then and now

January 18, 2006

We don't need census data to tell us our town is growing.

The growth is evident. More houses. More business activity. More traffic. More students in the schools.

Tonganoxie's growth spurt appears to have begun after the 1997 completion of a project to expand U.S. Highway 24-40 from two lanes to four lanes. Since then, the city's growth has snowballed.

When cleaning out a drawer at home the other day, my husband came across a 1995 packet from the city of Tonganoxie and the Tonganoxie Chamber of Commerce.

Although we've been aware of Tonganoxie's growth, it really hit home when we started looking at the numbers -- then vs. now.

Here are some statistics, old and new, about our city.

In 1995, Tonganoxie had a population of 2,347. In 2004, the city's population was estimated at 3,169, an increase of almost 35 percent.

Income wise, in 1995, the median household income was listed as $32,500. A 2004 report by the Tonganoxie Chamber of Commerce lists the median household income at $44,278, a 36 percent increase.

Here's where there's another jump. In 1995, the average rent was $360. The average price of a house was $58,380. Both figures were calculated on a countywide basis.

Current chamber of commerce statistics list Tonganoxie city's rent as ranging from $200 to $1,500 a month, with half of all rental units priced at $500 to $750 a month. And, according to the report, the current average cost of a home in Tonganoxie is $155,000.

Schools, of course, see the effects of changing demographics. According to the 1995 report, there were 1,488 students attending public school in Tonganoxie. This year's Sept. 20 official count for the Tonganoxie school district was 1,700 students.

And of course to accommodate the growth, the Tonganoxie school district is in the midst of a $25.3 million school construction project.

The 1995 report lists points of interest in the Tonganoxie area.

Of course, none of those included Cabela's, which since opening in 2002, has been rated the top tourist attraction in Kansas. In 1995, none of us would have dreamed of the changes that would take place in western Wyandotte County, including the Kansas Speedway, Nebraska Furniture Mart, the T-Bones minor league baseball park, the Legends shopping area and numerous other businesses and restaurants. The area, about 12 miles east of Tonganoxie, has boomed. And instead of being decidedly rural, as it used to be, Tonganoxie has become an extension of the city.

And, it seems the growth will continue. In 2004, Tonganoxie issued a record 128 building permits. And of course there's ongoing talk of providing access to the interstate in southern Leavenworth County, which would spur growth even more.

Through the years we've watched our city grow, but never as much as in the past five or six years. Though at times it seems the growth has been gradual, when you stop and look at the numbers, it's evident that little has been gradual about it at all.

Tonganoxie has become a destination, and it's likely that growth will continue.

One only wonders what a demographic look at Tonganoxie 10 years from now will show.

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