Mayor outlines vision for steady, clean growth
Tonganoxie Mayor Mike Vestal has a vision of bringing steady, quality growth to the city.
Vestal last week spoke to members of the Tonganoxie Chamber of Commerce, updating them on how he felt the city was progressing and telling them what direction he felt the city should be moving.
In an interview Friday, Vestal, who joked about never writing down his speeches because they would come back to haunt him, said he told the chamber the city needed the right mix of businesses to grow.
"I want steady growth, a quality growth with a mix of businesses and industry," he said. "We don't want to grow too fast and outgrow our infrastructure."
While Vestal wants more industry in the city, he doesn't want just any industry.
"I really don't want heavy industry in the city of Tonganoxie with smoke stacks and things. It hurts the ecology," he said.
Vestal said he wanted to see more businesses like S&S Alloy Steel and Magnatech Engineering, both tenants in the Urban Hess Industrial Park, coming into town and didn't want to see businesses such as Right Choice Pharmacy leaving.
"It was too bad we lost the pharmacy; I was sorry to see them go," he said.
Vestal also updated the chamber members about city projects, such as plans to repair and replace the Pleasant Street bridge to allow emergency vehicles quicker access to the Tonganoxie Nursing Center and the Tonganoxie Middle School.
Today, June 27, a Leavenworth Count District Court judge is scheduled to decide on the validity of a petition seeking a public vote on the city's financial involvement in the development of a Kansas Turnpike interchange at County Road 1.
Vestal said that he wanted to participate in the interchange's development, but the Leavenworth County Commission's recent moratorium on development on the city's southern border and the lawsuit have created difficulties.
"We are just waiting to see if they (county commissioners) want us involved or not, but if they do want our money, we want some type of agreement where we have a say on what infrastructure goes in there," he said. "Later down the line, we don't want to inherit poorly constructed infrastructure."
Vestal said he, City Administrator Mike Yanez and City Clerk Kathy Bard have discussed with county planners other possible plans for the future, such as a direct route -- possibly a super-two-lane highway -- from Tonganoxie to Leavenworth that would avoid taking back roads or avoid traveling to Kansas Highway 7 to get to Leavenworth.
For the 2008 city budget, Vestal wants to have an aggressive street program to catch up on some of the roadwork that has been pushed aside over the years.
"I think we've kind of gotten behind on roadwork. In the past they've kind of put it off because something else comes up like the Pleasant Street thing," he said. "We may try to do three different projects to get ahead of the game, but it depends on how much it's going to cost us because we don't want to raise the mill levy."
To help offset some the price of the road improvements, Vestal wants to push back construction of a new city hall and police station.
"Citizens pay taxes for good streets and everybody deserves a good street, not just the main drags," Vestal said.
Vestal is also looking toward the future with the possible development of a $1 billion entertainment resort in Wyandotte County called Sports World Live.
"It would bring like 3,000 jobs," he said. "I could see that affecting Tonganoxie greatly because people would be getting jobs there and moving over here where there's easy access to Kansas City. Things are just booming around here really fast."
The mayor made such an impression on the chamber that they asked him to come back to each of their meetings to give an update on the city, which Vestal said he would be happy to do.
"It's part of the job, and I like doing it," he said.