Archive for Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Land acquisitions firm to negotiate for Fourth Street easements

September 10, 2008

The city is now in the process of acquiring the needed easements to finish the third phase of the Fourth Street improvements. But exactly how it was going to get the land wasn't agreed upon until Sept. 2 during the regular Tonganoxie City Council meeting.

The options are to either condemn all 18 tracts of land needed to start the project or attempt to have Chris Huffman, of Huffman Corridor Consulting, L.L.C., attempt to negotiate with the landowners.

Mike Kelly, the city attorney, told the council about the pros and cons of either option. He said the condemnation process will bypass the homeowners and will take about 60 days to complete and the city will get the land without much problem, but "if you can negotiate all of the tracts, you can save a significant amount of money."

The condemnation process will require at least $1,500 for each tract of land, and does not include any legal fees and the appraised cost of the land. At more than $27,000, this is the most expensive option.

By hiring Huffman, the city would pay a maximum of $650 in fees to the company along with the negotiated price of the land. This could potentially cost the city a maximum of $11,700 plus the negotiated land price if Huffman can get all 18 landowners to agree. The problem with hiring the firm will be its ability to contact the landowners to begin negotiations; having them agree on a price; and paying more for a tract of land than what its appraised value is. If Huffman is unable to come to any agreement, the land will be condemned and Huffman's fee will be added to the cost to condemn the land.

Tonganoxie Mayor Mike Vestal said he wanted to make a good-faith effort with the Fourth Street landowners to resolve the situation.

"I don't want people to think that we are being a big bully," he said at the meeting.

Council president Jason Ward wanted to do what was best for the landowners and for the city.

"Really, what matters is that people get a fair assessment for their property," he said. "For me, I look at it as a project that is going to happen when it happens."

In the end, the council voted, 3-0, to hire Huffman's firm to acquire the easements.

Councilmember Paula Crook, who lives on Fourth Street, abstained from the vote.

In other business, the city council:

¢ Unanimously agreed to use Purplewave online auctions to sell the city's old equipment. Because the city does not enter into a long-term contract with Purplewave, but instead contracts with the auctioneer on an item-by-item basis, the city council wanted to try out the service.

¢ Unanimously approved $40,805.37 for O'Donnel and Sons Construction for work done on East Second Street and $2,065.17 for additional asphalt.

¢ Unanimously approved not to exceed $20,000 for the purchase of salt at $65 a ton from Tonganoxie Rocks.

The amount of salt would depend on the amount of storage available at the new public works building. Last year the city purchased 225 tons of salt with prices ranging from $35 a ton at the beginning of the season to $95 at the end of the season.

Yanez said that other municipalities were trying to purchase salt in bulk to save cost, but were having a hard time finding a vendor.

¢ Unanimously approved the purchase of an Itron handheld water meter reader. The purchase was not to exceed $4,470.

¢ Accepted Vestal's appointment of Amanda Altenhofen to the Tonganoxie Library Board to fill the unexpired term of Janet Hofmeister.

¢ Unanimously approved a special work session to be held at 6 p.m., Sept. 17, at Bichelmeyer Steakhouse to discuss community retail strategic planning, presented by Bucher, Willis & Ratliff Corp., the city's planning firm.

¢ Unanimously adopted a resolution endorsing transportation improvements for the city of Tonganoxie concerning the 2010 state-wide comprehensive transportation program form the Kansas Department of Transportation. Among some of the city street projects included in the resolution were: 14th Street from U.S. Highway 24-40 to East Street; Laming road from U.S. 24-40 south to Fourth Street; Pleasant Street Bridge replacement; East Street from seventh street south to 14th Street; Church Street from Sixth Street to Washington Street.

¢ Unanimously approved to spend $3,209.40 for security cameras, a video-taping system and a security box for the new public works facility. In addition, the council asked city staff to add additional lighting at the public works facility.

¢ Voted, 3-1, to spend $13,306 on a new Henderson Sand Spreader from Knapheide Truck Equipment. The public works department allocated money for a new spreader in this year's budget. Crook was the dissenting vote. She stated that just because the equipment was old, wasn't a good enough reason to replace the spreader.

¢ Tabled the renewal of the contract for Yanez as city administrator after meeting in two 15-minute executive sessions.

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