Archive for Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Council approves $1.38 million land purchase

Area is 237 acres southeast of Paradise Trailer Park and could be site for future county business park

October 29, 2008

City leaders have once again put their hopes and money on the County Road 1 interchange area.

During a special meeting Monday night, the city council voted 3-0 to proceed with the purchase of 237 acres of land south of the city limits for nearly $1.38 million.

Council members Jim Truesdell and Steve Gumm were absent. The land, which is southeast of the Paradise Trailer Park, is in the running to be the future site of a Leavenworth County industrial park. The actual cost is $1,378,625.

“If the city were to purchase the land it would have an impact on our budget in the future,” Council member Jason Ward said. “But it’s a great opportunity for job creation. It’s really a balancing act.”

This section of land caught the eye of the Leavenworth County Port Authority’s land search committee along with parcels of land in Basehor, Lansing and Leavenworth.

Dan Gutshall, who is chairing that committee, said that each site was rated with a scorecard that included items such as access to the highway transporting, access to utilities, land topography and cost of the land. The city of Basehor is looking at an 87-acre plot of land. Lansing is eyeing a 159-acre plot and Leavenworth between 30 and 70 acres.

The cities would also help pay for engineering work that would determine cost to develop the land. All of these numbers would help the committee decide the location of the new industrial park.

“It really was the most objective way we can compare one site to another,” Gutshall said.

Each city is vying to have the park constructed near it, but before Monday, Tonganoxie was the only city with an option ready to make the land purchase.

The reason for the city to move on the land so quickly — even though the committee won’t make its decision on the viability of the land until the next three to six months at the earliest — was because of the land option’s expiration date.

The option was signed in July 14, but was set to expire Dec. 31. If the option had expired, the land owned by the Audrey F. Irick Trust would have been open for public sale and might have been sold to another developer.

While having an industrial park with operating businesses could help ease the tax burden on city residents, there is always the risk that the committee could not choose the Tonganoxie land. And in a worst case scenario the city might have to sell it at a loss.

But Tonganoxie Mayor Mike Vestal doesn’t think that will happen.

“I think it’s a good investment in Tonganoxie,” he said after the meeting. “We are trying to create some jobs here. We are a bedroom community, but we would like to keep some jobs here. It’s not going to be anything quick. It will be in the next two or three years.”

Gutshall agrees.

“For me it’s just exiting to see a community like Tonganoxie step out there and see the real opportunity of what industrial development can do for their community.

“What we have here is the culmination of what we have been doing for the last three years,” he said. “And what is going to happen five years from now is the culmination of what they have done here tonight.”

Tom Kaleko, of Springstead Inc., the city’s financial adviser, attended Monday night’s meeting. He said he would come back at a future city council meeting with different funding options for the city.

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